Super Deluxe

  • Super Deluxe
  • Electric Holiday EP (Tim/Kerr) 1995 
  • Famous (Tim/Kerr) 1995  (Tim/Kerr / Revolution) 1996 
  • Via Satellite (Revolution) 1997 

As pop’s timeline reels out ever further, those who choose to root around in its archives have grown ever more haphazard in their pickings and porings. Genres that once elicited staunch sectarian divisions are now so remote — especially to musicians born well after the last original notes had been played — that any style at hand can now be emulated or incorporated without prejudice or context. In other words, “I don’t care where you found that — just put it in your mouth!”

On its brief, splendid debut, the young Seattle foursome Super Deluxe demonstrates a clear awareness of ’90s noise but primarily brings Squeeze-like harmonic subtlety to winning originals rooted in that nonexistent netherworld between the original British Invaders and their softhearted new wave receptors. Which doesn’t exclude intimations of country-rock, suggestions of Sloan or — on “Disappearing,” which is surely one gimmicky video away from monster smashdom — blowzy Kurt Cobain guitar. Braden Blake writes nifty songs that make teen-adorable meters rise without sacrificing adult strength. “Flustered” manages to work in such seductive imagery as “semi-precious crystal teardrops,” while there’s “a monster underneath my bed” in “Johnny’s Gone Fishin’.” (The coincidental timing of “Holly’s Dream Vacation,” another song about Breakfast at Tiffany‘s, was unfortunate.) He baits the tunes with killer hooks and sings them in a suitable Mr. Softee voice. Together with second guitarist/vocalist John Kirsch, Blake fills the ten tracks with smart harmonies and the fuzzed-up/ringing rhythm guitars that say “we know it’s 1995 but we’ve kept our record collections anyway.” What more could anyone ask?

[Ira Robbins]