Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Review: Tinted Windows - Tinted Windows (* * * 1/2)

Supergroups come in all kinds of unexpected shapes and sizes, but Tinted Windows has a lineup that I'm fairly certain nobody saw coming. Comprised of of Taylor Hanson (of the brothers Hanson), James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins, A Perfect Circle), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick), Tinted Windows are on the quest to make the perfect pop album, or so it seems. Their self-titled debut is full of hooks and big choruses that are probably most similar to the work Schlesinger has done with Fountains of Wayne, though - unfortunately - with a little less personality and a more generic feel. Still, the record certainly has its moments and provides enough of a good time to be worth a listen for pop music junkies (like myself).

If it seems like writing an entire album about girls (loving girls, wanting girls, leaving girls) might not be all that compelling, you'd be half right here. Certainly the subject matter of songs like "Messing With My Head" and "We Got Something" has been done before (probably too many times), but the presentation is so undeniably catchy, you'll have a hard time complaining. Hanson's voice has just enough soul to be convincing, and these guys obviously know their way around a hook, so what you get is a blast of retro-influenced pop that's fun, accessible, and occasionally fantastic. "Can't Get A Read On You" features some fiery guitar work by Iha and an explosive chorus, while "Cha Cha" relies on a sunny, West Coast vibe that's equally appealing, and there are plenty of similarly enjoyable moments to be found throughout the disc.

It's too bad that Tinted Windows is hampered by too many unmemorable mid-tempo rockers that keep the album from achieving lift-off. "Dead Serious," Back With You," and Doncha Wanna" aren't bad songs, really, but they don't add much to the record either, and they feel like a bit of a letdown when you think about what this kind of group is capable of producing. However, unlike so many supergroups, these guys aren't out to prove themselves revolutionary or even become the next big thing, they're just using their collective experience to make great pop music, and that in somewhat modest - but respectable - goal, they succeed.