Album Reviews — Jeremy: Pop Explosion and Yesterday, Today and Forever

By  Peter Lindblad

Bursting open like a piñata, Pop Explosion spills its candy-coated, acid-laced melodies everywhere. Picking them up is no chore.

Bright and colorful, this double-CD from Jeremy, aka Jeremy Morris, is unabashed in its admiration for everything Beatles, and that love affair is explored more thoroughly on the Fab Four tribute album, Yesterday, Today and Forever. But Jeremy is smart enough to sidestep accusations of outright theft on his own material.

Cloying ballads “The Perfect Love” and “Hand in Hand” aside, Pop Explosion is a wondrous minefield of strong hooks and driving rockers — see the blissed-out harmonics of “Sweet Salvation,” the garage-rock stomper “You’re Gonna Get It” and the kaleidoscopic psychedelia of “As Long As You’re Around”  — Jeremy has mapped out with tight precision and masterful songcraft.

Infectious and immaculately constructed, the swooning “Time Is Running Out” and the British Invasion-meets-The Byrds-like jangle of “Superstar” honor old masters. But he’s not just building shrines in their honor here. It’s clear he has his own agenda and an identity separate from his heroes, even if the 24-track second disc of covers — with loving takes on Yo La Tengo’s “Big Day Coming” to The Replacements’ “Here Comes A Regular” — reveals the pie-eyed fanboy inside eager to get out.

Where Pop Explosion finds Jeremy going beyond mere imitation and flattery, Yesterday, Today and Forever is pure, unadulterated hero worship — and yet, Jeremy has enough experimental tricks up his sleeve to surprise even the most jaded critic.

A breathtakingly beautiful, 17-song homage, Yesterday, Today and Forever boasts versions of “Love” and “Norwegian Wood” that are awash in lush studio effects, and yet they don’t overwhelm the lovely simplicity of the originals. “It’s All Too Much” and “Good Night” exude light and joy, while “Here, There And Everywhere” is recast in synthetic sounds that expand and wander where even The Beatles never roamed.

But it’s where Jeremy plays ghost in the machine in “Revolution #7,” clocking in at 11:37, that impresses the most. Turning the song practically inside out, Jeremy — indulging his progressive-rock muse — unleashes a flood of electronica that sounds almost symphonic, while little eddies of acoustic guitar swirl and die, and quick, frenetic electric guitar solos gloriously burn out on re-entry.

Among the glut of Beatles tributes out there, Yesterday, Today and Forever has to rank as one of the more fascinating, mesmerizing listens. And Pop Explosion is more ambitious than power-pop has a right to be, even if Jeremy’s ballads need refinement. All in all, these two LPs provide more than a glimpse of an artist who’s as comfortable updating past classics as he is reinventing himself.

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