This Vermont-to-Delaware power pop quartet packs exactly the sort of angst one would expect from a band named after the confused teen of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Singer/guitarist John Faye chronicles slacker life in a sleepy college town, addressing alienation and the perceived hypocrisy of the adult world in short, catchy modern pop songs that occasionally betray his grave concerns about important matters. “Ask a little girl if she wants a piece of candy / And you’ll find yourself in front of a lynch mob for a jury / And they’ll read the riot act along with your Miranda warning.” The lyrics are clever if uninspired, his anger concealed inside sugar-coated melodies. There’s not much here that hasn’t been done before; still, the Caulfields do it well, and the band’s catchy songs have easy appeal.
The band, and Faye’s songwriting, improved greatly on its second and, regrettably, final album. On L (for loser), Faye continues to place his serious concerns about religion, personal responsibility and missed opportunities in the context of boy-girl relationships. It’s hard to resist the wordplay and the band’s catchy post-Buzzcocks, post-Posies power pop. “President of Nothing” memorably envisions Faye looking back on his life as he ascends to heaven, where he finds “The apostles and you / Watching God’s cut of 12 Angry Men.” The same sense of premature nostalgia permeates “Book of Your Life” and “The Kitchen Debate,” with its bittersweet chorus: “You had your best ideas / When you were 17 / When you lost homecoming queen.” As on the debut, several tracks address Faye’s sense of alienation as an Asian-American in smalltown society.
The Caulfields then broke up. Faye started the John Faye Power Trip in 1999 from his base in Delaware, and has since released albums on indie labels under that name and Ike.