By John M. Borack
Deftly straddling the line between pure pop and harder-edged rock on their second full-length effort, the Turnback offer up a 12-song disc that rocks with abandon while still displaying smooth harmonies, perky melodies and hooks piled upon hooks. The New York-based trio takes sort of a “Foo Fighters Meet the Beatles” approach here, with each of the 11 originals being crunchy, punchy and super memorable. (The twelfth track is a rocked up, supercharged cover of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which keeps the tune’s psychedelic vibe intact while tossing in oodles of close vocal harmonies and a wonderfully melodic guitar solo.)
As far as the originals, the listener can pretty much dive in anywhere and find something to love: the opening salvo, “Faketown,” is an indictment of the less-than-honest (“Can’t cut through the bullshit?/Well, sharpen the knife”) that sounds quite a bit like The Tories (there’s an obscure late ‘90s power pop reference for ya); “Revolution Girl” features some of those previously mentioned fab vocal harmonies (courtesy of Todd Giglio and Kenny Sherman), as well as a keening guitar riff that recalls a beefy cross between “Taxman” and “Day Tripper”; “Reveal” sails along at almost a punky clip, “Unmotivated” slows things down without sacrificing one whit of the band’s energy, and “A Place For Me” is a “rock or be damned” anthem that perfectly showcases the band’s raison d’etre. (“Not quite the underground/Not quite the hip/Not quite the mainstream/I’m a misfit…you can’t stop the singer or the song/That’s a place for me.”)
The cheeky “If I Were God” (“If I were God, I’d send Mrs. Palin to the moon”) is at once hilarious and thought provoking, and is another high point of a record that is a textbook example of how to put the power in power pop. Kudos to Giglio, Sherman and powerhouse drummer Barry Nagel for providing one of 2015’s unexpected highlights. Check out the band at www.theturnback.com.
The video above, “If I Were God,” was helmed by the band themselves and it’s a whimsical retro-animated video that “stars” Sarah Palin, with a host of other unauthorized cameos from both the band’s heroes (John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson etc.) and villains (Kim Davis, Ted Cruz, Josh Duggar, Ann Coulter, Donald Trump etc.) The band basically gets to live out their fantasy (mentioned in the song’s first lines) of getting rid of Palin by shooting her to the moon.