Shake it Up
April 2002

"The Supers"
Mystery On Pop Mountain - (Tri-Pop)

An "experiment" that works - quite successfully at that.
Those familiar with The Supers know that Spklaaaang! was one of the more impressive slices of guitar pop to come out a few years ago. While that release moved back and forth between tough rockers and solid ballads, it was pretty clear that The Supers were at their strongest when playing in the former.

With Mystery On Pop Mountain (the title and cover is, you guessed it, a Hardy Boys spoof), The Supers shift gears quite dramatically, offering a delivery much more satisfying than merely going "unplugged". Vocalist Graham Powell strums his acoustic guitar, Vocalist Maury Lafoy picks up the acoustic bass, Tim Bovaconti puts away his electric guitar for a steel version, and drummer Mark Mariash lets brushes do the talking.

It's no secret that The Supers are a group of proficient musicians. Then there's the fact that two strong vocalists are present in Powell and Lafoy. What pushes Mystery On Pop Mountain over the edge is that both the original material and covers are perfect choices for the format.
Speaking of covers first, it's nice to see the appearance of Take On Me here, something that fans of the band may be familiar with thanks to their live shows. What we get here is a band actually "selling" the song - Lafoy sounds overwhelmingly sincere right down to the falsetto. Almost as good is their take on The Beach Boys' Love Is Here, draining the song of it's original fullness but replacing it with a tasteful sparse quality. There's also a case here of The Supers covering - wait for it - The Supers, by way of re-readings of Sleep and Only You.

Bovaconti's In Spite Of Yourself makes the most of the format's jazzier side, while his guitar on Lafoy's This Tide is as evocative as Lafoy's vocal. In fact, "tasteful" is a word that can be used to describe much of Mystery On Pop Mountain, happily to the point where it doesn't suck the life out of these songs.

A bold sophomore statement here that makes it clear The Supers can go any route they care to.

(* * * 1/2 out of 5)
Claudio Sossi April 2002