March 3rd 2001 Entertainment Today-Los Angeles

The Supers
Permanent Press
by Eric Layton

Playing pop is a tricky thing; few do it well, many more shouldn’t be doing it all. The Supers, hailing from Toronto, are among the participants in the genre that definitely belong in it. Their debut Spklanng! is an appealing and brisk collection that both showcases the band’s talents and gives power pop a much-needed recharge.

The melancholy “Secret” opens the disc, featuring plaintive vocals and the familiar “shimmering” guitar work that has been the hallmark of pop six-stringers from John Lennon to late 10,000 Maniacs guitarist Robert Buck. Furthermore, it’s a piece that’s not only in step with the balladry of their fellow Toronto-ites Barenaked Ladies, but a tune the naked ones would be proud to have penned themselves. Besides the Supers themselves, credit that to their producer Michael Phillip Wojewoda, who has manned the board for the Ladies in the past.

Though “Secret” is a bit glum, things don’t stay blue for long, as “Turn” is a bouncy, garage-rockin’ winner. Ditto for the hyperactive, edgy “So Many Crooks,” which, in a telling lyrical maneuver, indirectly name-checks “Twist and Shout.”

They twist and shout indeed, but the Supers can relax and murmur, too. In fact, the group seems to relish the push-and-pull nature of a ballad-rocker-ballad song order here, as the shoe-gazing, Weezer-ish “Only You” is followed by the strident, guitar-propelled “Fall,” which bumps up against the folky rumination “Even Fools,” and so on. But regardless of how hard they rock or how soft their touch can be, the quartet’s craft and seemingly effortless playing are in full evidence throughout. Spklanng! is sharply-produced and thoughtfully-written power pop that’s tough to resist.