While it's true that anything labeled "power-pop" is going to compel me to try it, I've also grown wary of how music is always shunted into one of various sub-genres -- it can be misleading, and I end up being disappointed when I don't like one band, or worse yet I end up missing a really good band altogether. So I try my best to ignore the sub-genre labels ... but I'm glad I didn't this time, and gave this one a chance.
I'm not sure I'd call Big City Rock a "power-pop" band. True, they have the keyboard/synth flourishes that are common on power-pop albums (though here they're sparingly used), as well as one catchy song after another, but the lyrics have more substance to them, and their delivery, by the hearty, resonant baritone of Nate Bott -- who occasionally sounds like he might be getting ready to erupt into the raging growl of your average emo-band singer (but thankfully doesn't, as I don't care for "screamo") -- gives the songs more weight than one would expect to find on the typical "power-pop" record.
All the songs on this album are good, but here are a few standouts: "Human" sounds like a direct and worthy descendant of The Fixx's "Less Cities, More Moving People"; "Kind" could have been a saccharine "can't we all get along" song, but is kept earnestly on the ground thanks to the driving beat and Bott's strong vocals; and "Shelter" is another excellent socially-conscious song that I can't seem to get enough of. One of these songs will definitely be going on the "year-in-review" CD I make for friends for the holidays -- I just have to decide which one!
The only bad thing about this CD is that it's quite brief (less than 40 minutes) and could easily have accommodated one or two more songs without feeling overly long. But this has certainly whet my appetite for Big City Rock and, if and when they release a sophomore disc, I'll know it will have been worth the wait!