Round about 2006, my friend Dave started raving about a power pop band he’d heard called The Click Five. He recommended checking out their debut disc ‘Greetings From Imrie House’, since they reminded him of a largely ignored power pop band from the mid-90s called The Loveless. By a strange coincidence, The Click Five were discovered by talent scout Wayne Sharp, who back in the 80s had discovered a power pop band called Candy, who would later evolve via Electric Angels into The Loveless. [Candy also had the distinction of launching the careers of sometime Guns n’ Roses man Gilby Clarke and power pop icon Kyle Vincent.]
Personally, though, despite my love of The Loveless and the sole album they released, I cared not The Click Five or ‘Imrie House’. While I could hear a vague similarity to The Loveless, The Click Five seemed far too lightweight – more Busted and McFly than the power pop which often appealed to me. The hooks were there, but they were really sugar-coated. Factor in Eric Dill’s vocals, which appeared horribly auto-tuned throughout huge chunks of the album and…well, let’s just say it wasn’t for me. The Click Five definitely seemed more in tune with the world of teen-fodder than destined for a place in the pantheon of power pop cool. However, despite my misgivings, the album made a few waves in the US, eventually shifting over two million units worldwide (with about thirty copies sold in the UK). All seemed to be going well until Dill quit the band.
They found a replacement in vocalist Kyle Patrick, a man who personally knew the band, but allegedly didn’t care for their music (see, I wasn’t the only one!). 2007’s ‘Modern Times and Pastimes’ ushered in a new phase for The Click Five. While they retained the knack for the kind of hooks that’d always been part of their music, with Patrick on vocals, they dispensed with the auto-tune elements somewhat and brought in better, stronger arrangements. Music with – dare I say – a broader appeal, a shift away from the teen market. As I’d always been a sucker for keyboards that sounded like they’d been lifted from ‘Candy-O’ by The Cars, the slight new wave influences that crept into The Click Five’s music was a welcome addition. Things definitely seemed to be improving.
Produced by Mike Deneen, whose previous credits include the fabulous ‘Flippin’ Out by Gigolo Aunts, this third Click Five release takes the promise of ‘Modern Times’ and ups the stakes even further. Within minutes of the opening number ‘I Quit! I Quit! I Quit!’, it’s obvious the band have finally found their niche. Kyle Patrick’s vocals are so much better than those of Eric Dill, and everybody appears far more confident with the slightly tougher, Fountains of Wayne-esque sound they first experimented with on ‘Modern Times’. The rhythm guitars posses the best kind of power pop punch, against which Kyle Patrick’s effortless vocal delivers a stupidly catchy hook. The power pop greatness carries through ‘Fever For Shakin’, albeit in an even harder way. The harmonies and hooks are prominent, but somehow, Joey Zehr’s drum kit maintains a bigger presence. The guitars are chunky, occasionally lapsing into slightly raucous rock ‘n’ roll soloing near the tracks end, while the keyboards really round out the sound. Easily one of the album’s best numbers – especially after it rather cheekily throws in a few unexpected Beatles inspired riffs during the bridge. ‘Nobody’s Business’ is another number which goes squarely for a feel-good approach, chock-full of new wave keyboard lines and handclaps. If you’re a power pop fan, you’ll certainly have heard it all before, but The Click Five deliver these hooks in such an infectious way, it’s a track that’s almost impossible to dislike.
The softer side of The Click Five presents itself on the acoustic based, ‘Good as Gold’, a mix of power pop and Americana. Gentle shuffling drums pave the way for an easy vocal, slightly retro twanging guitars and an arrangement which evokes Ryan Adams at his most syrupy. While there’s a definite difference between this and material like ‘I Quit! I Quit! I Quit!’, The Click Five show they’re equally adept both styles. Sharp harmonies and rhythms drive ‘Way Back To You’ and while a simple chorus provides another highlight, take a listen to the arrangement – it’s impossible to not smile at Ben Romans’s keyboard line which comes straight out of the Greg Hawkes school of playing.
Big harmonies swamp the chorus of ‘Be In Love’ which turns the feel-good factor back up to 11; against the memorable hook, there’s a string sting and horn sounds which come straight out of the 1970s. As the track falls apart at the end with in-studio clapping, there’s a sense that The Click Five know they’re onto something special. In terms of seventies inspired pop gems, this may just equal parts of The Silver Seas’ 2010 masterpiece ‘Chateau Revenge!’. ‘Just Like My Heart Falls’ is full of crisp rhythm guitars and features yet another great chorus. Perfect for radio, this summery tune presents nothing complicated or fussy – the band really tune into their knack for arrangements; something which becomes especially obvious once the counter vocal harmonies kick in at the end.
Seriously, ‘TCV’ is an album which aims high throughout and barely misses. Occasionally, there’s a lapse into teeny inspired power pop a la ‘Imrie House’, but generally speaking, this album showcases the work of a far sassier Click Five. The sappy ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ gives the nod to the likes of Maroon 5 and in doing so, possibly presents the album’s weak link – but even then, that’s solely down to personal taste, since (as far as the arrangement is concerned) it’s great at what it does.
Since I enjoyed ‘TCV’, I returned to ‘Greetings From Imrie House’ in the hope that it would sound better – that what I missed previously would now fall into place. Halfway through the opening track ‘Good Day’, with its overuse of auto-tune and general sugariness starting to grate, I remembered why I gave the album a wide berth in the first place. The Click Five have come a long way since those days. Maybe you didn’t like them either back then. If so, maybe you ought to forget the band that made waves with ‘Imrie House’ and try this “other” Click Five too. On ‘TCV’, they get it just right.
[The UK issue on Lojinx rearranges the tracklisting and omits two songs from the original US release. These are replaced by two new tracks.]