In this era of reunions and archival re-issues, it seems that every era is getting a critical re-examination, yielding new lost classics and giving under-appreciated bands a second career. However there haven't been many demanding a re-evaluation of the music lumped in under the umbrella alternative rock of the mid-'90s. The same could be said of the style known as power pop, as defined by Each Day Is Better Than The Next, the first LP in 10 years from Atomsmasher. Each Day Is Better Than The Next is basically alternative rock, adorned with lush string arrangements, synthesizers, vocal harmonies and the occasional exotic instrument.
The music is quite accomplished. The guitars are thick and crunchy, like on the pulsing menace of "Feelin' Bad,” or the flying leads of "We Brought This Fate,” which border on the epic. There are interesting arrangements and complex song structures, with woozy chromatic chord progressions, like on "Theme From Crazy Town,” which are further sweetened with well chosen keyboard sounds. Atomsmasher occasionally breaks out of the rock mold, to explore other musical styles, like on the swooning island rhythm of "I Know You,” which nearly succeeds in being romantic and relaxing, or "You Wanna,” which is well and truly strange, as choppy cheap Casio chords meet Latin percussion and hand-claps, which is actually distinctive and adventurous. It's like some garage sale keyboard had morning sickness all over a stack of vintage Playboys, which is actually a compliment! I'd like to see the band work more in this style.
Each Day Is Better Than The Next gets better as it goes on, which makes it more of an issue of sequencing than lack of talent. Some A&R man somewhere probably thought the first three tracks were the lead singles, the most radio friendly and that Atomsmasher would come back swinging! Instead, the opposite is achieved, with the blaring volume and slick production sounding too much like every other thing you hear and the ears shut off.
Atomsmasher work best when they stick closest to their power pop roots, like on "Feelin' Bad,” which basically sounds like Cheap Trick with some analog synth added, which is actually a nice touch, or on the more musically ambitious tracks like The Beatles-esque "It's Over" or "Pictures,” my personal favorite track on here. They allow more room for the instruments to spread and rock out, which is Atomsmasher's strongest suit, and lets an actual mood grow, rather than trying to force it.
There are some interesting, inventive songs and inspired moments in the latter two-thirds of the record. Take a listen
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