Review Revue: The Posies – Dear 23

Dear 23

The Posies — Jon Auer, Ken Stringfellow, et al. — have been an important part of the Seattle (and national) indie-pop scene for over 20 years now. While never as huge as some of the other bands that came out of the Northwest onto major labels in the early 90s, they have certainly left their mark, and continue to have a legion of devoted fans.

Interestingly, I picked this week’s album, Dear 23, more or less at random, but it was actually released on the same label (DGC) and in the same year (1990) as last week’s album (Sonic Youth’s Goo). It’s hard to think of two more different bands than The Posies and Sonic Youth (or at least, two more different bands that might be heard on KEXP); the two of them paired this way gives an interesting cross-section of “alternative” music in its heyday. As we saw last week, the KCMU DJs were still in awe of Sonic Youth’s powers despite their move to the majors; how did they feel about the Bellingham boys in the Posies making the jump from Pop Llama to DGC?

“This is a nice clean cut record. The kind of record you could take home to mom. It’s the Posies doing what they do best. Pleasant pop songs with nice melodies and hooks. They still sound like the Hollies. Good record.”

“‘Flood of Sunshine’ sounds like Jeff Beck meets Eddie Hazel’s ‘Maggot Brain’ guitar solo (Funkadelic). Very unusual tune for these folks…”

“Sounds too much like the Monkees!”

“The worst lyrics of 1990. Excellently crafted pop music from a fine pop band. Try ‘Help Yourself.'”

“Too many anti-pop attitudes around here. This is a pretty good effort.”

“I know it’s kinda late, but I like this a fair bit — a really good pop LP.”

“‘Anti-pop is one thing, but not liking this album because it is the musical equivalent of Nutrasweet is quite another.”

“Agreed! I’d rather listen to Big Star, Badfinger, Beatles, XTC & all their other influences instead of this clever pastiche. I like pop — I don’t like the Posies.”

Well, it seems the Posies were a bit more divisive at the time than Sonic Youth. Fair enough. Let’s go out with the video from “Golden Blunders,” the single off Dear 23 and a lovely little time capsule from 1990:

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  1. John Davis
    Posted April 2, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    This was easily the best album of 1990 – glorious harmonies and brilliant songwriting. How many Seattle musicians have had their tunes covered by one of the Beatles? (Ringo recorded a version of “Golden Blunders”) The production by John Leckie was also near-perfect – the reverb and phasing on “Suddenly Mary” add a lot to this dazzling gem.

  2. Posted April 3, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Great choice! Definitely a favorite from my youth. I believe The Posies were before their time. Auer and Stringfellow’s combination of clever songwriting and beautiful harmonies should have made them a commercial success. However, the sound they produced was classic. Which was not in line with popular music during the early 90’s.
    My favorite songs are Any Other Way, Golden Blunders, Suddenly Mary and Flood of Sunshine. The Posies will always be one of my favorite bands.

  3. mcMenamins
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    I breath you in and fall
    It has been done before
    I drink and swim
    Tanyia, have you any left

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