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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Love Junk (Chrysalis) 1988
One-Sided Story (Chrysalis) 1990

The first LP from this Canadian quintet seemed like a godsend to many aging rock fans; Love Junk combines grown-up irony with obsessive adolescent lust, setting it all in a convincing, energetic hard rock-pop crunch. Lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Moe Berg's lyrics are simultaneously literate, wise, poignant and irremediably horny. The key cut on the LP is the wry "I'm an Adult Now," but that's just for starters; Love Junk is delightful and surprising from beginning to end. Berg's chord changes and structure bear the unmistakable influence of Todd Rundgren, who proved a most simpatico producer as well.

One-Sided Story is as disastrous an example of the sophomore jinx as has been heard in modern rock. Berg's observations and plaints on Love Junk could evoke any number of complex responses; here he sounds slack and whiny. His once daring wit is now received in the worst way. On the opening track, when he compares his girlfriend's amatory technique to "greasy fried noodles," well, it doesn't take a genius to guess the hungry-an-hour-later punchline. The music isn't nearly as inventive or memorable, and Rundgren's production, so apt on Love Junk, is raw to the extreme. The band deserves to bounce back though, and Berg is too talented to leave it at this.

[Glenn Kenny]