Disclosures up front: I proposed to my future ex-wife at a Cheap Trick show, so I guess you could call me a fan. I think that Bun E. Carlos is a great drummer, undersung because he’s not flashy in a band with a lot of flash. This is particularly true given that the band came of age in an era where drummers were adding toms and bass drums; I’ve always found him tasteful, a nice contrast to the antics of Rick Nielsen. So you can imagine that the sortasupergroup Tinted Windows—which counts as its members Carlos, James Iha, Adam Schlesinger, and Taylor Hanson—has me excited.
I’m a sucker for power pop, and I always like Iha’s Pumpkins songs. I know that Schlesinger can write a catchy tune, even if I was never that impressed with the too-polished sound of Fountains of Wayne. And, listen, Hanson weren’t half-bad—”Mmmbop” is silly, sure, but those kids could play and sing. I hated the way some folks turned up their nose at them for being, well, kids, while it’s okay that the Beatles wrote a song about a walrus. Thank God fun stuff like that was driven off the radio by nu-metal!
The first TW song, “Kind of a Girl” hit the Web yesterday. It sounds like a ’90s Cheap Trick song with a barely different singer. It even has a superfluous guitar solo! It’s almost as if the three non-Bun E. members all wrote the song to suit him and his sixteenth-note snare fills. It’s not gonna win any lyric-writing prizes: “And she took me by the hand/And she said she had some plans/And I tried so hard/But I didn’t quite understand.” Starting every line with a conjunction is kinda lazy, but it’s a tic that some singers have. (I assume this is Taylor singing here. His voice has matured over the years, but he still has a tendency to squeeze it out through his nose.)
But “Kind Of A Girl” is the catchy-as-hell power-pop-paint-by-numbers that Schlesinger trades in. I imagine Pumpkins fans will pooh-pooh this, but James Iha remains a sideman here as he did in his Pumpkins life. The guitars buzz and it has a nice wordless chorus, which I’m also a sucker for. I’d rather hear whoa-oh-oh’s than some meaningless phrase repeated four times. Overall, I dig the song. It knows its role on this earth, and it gets in, does its thing, and gets out, as most good power pop does.