“Teardrop Kiss” is the unexpected new album from Australian power pop legends the Innocents, and a release that will trigger joy in the hearts of power pop freaks the world over.
Best known for their 1980 debut single “Sooner Or Later” – a tune which concentrated the joy filled oeuvre of the Raspberries into 3 minutes of spectacular and melody and energy – the Innocents have a worldwide cult following which has grown on the back of the band’s enigmatic beginnings, their connections to revered figures including Glenn A Baker and Kim Fowley, and a cache of early recordings which made their mark on now collectable releases like Here We Come! (1984 on Raven) and The No Hit Wonders from Down Under (2002).
A few facts surrounding the release of Australian band the Innocents' latest album, ‘Teardrop Kiss’. The band was formed in Tasmania in 1975 and was originally called Beathoven. Although they achieved some success they split in 1981 but reunited and recorded an album, ‘Pop Factory’, in 2006 after a couple of compilation albums renewed interest in the band. Glenn A Baker (renowned Australian music critic) has stated that the band is “perhaps the greatest power pop band in the world since the demise of the Raspberries.” And even more important and telling is that ‘Teardrop Kiss’ was produced by Michael Carpenter and Rob Smith, partly at Love Hz Studios. Carpenter also plays guitar, drums and adds his backing vocals on some tracks. That is probably eough said. Apart from it’s the best power pop collection to come this way in some time, some years even.
The core band is made up of Greg Cracknell on bass and vocals, Rob Smith on guitars, bass, mandolin, keyboards and vocals who wrote one of the songs featured on the album and Charles Touber who penned the other twelve songs and plays rhythm guitar and also handles vocals. Despite performing at the International Pop Overthrow, the Innocents still remained a well-kept secret to many music lovers, this writer included.
‘Every Moment Matters’ kicks off the album in fine style. It’s obvious from the very first second that the listener is in for a hook-filled, joyous ride. Those glorious power pop harmonies are present and correct; the tune just soars and is as infectious as the common cold. Even though every power pop trick is apparently squeezed into this four-minute opening cut Carpenter and Smith make the whole thing sound so fresh and contemporary. It’s no fluke either, the second song, ‘Strangers In The Park’, is even stronger, lyrically smart and recalling a friendship lost all wrapped in another catchy melody that once heard is hard to forget. Bands have been formed because of songs like this; it’s that powerful.
The title track finds the band adding an edge to the classic power pop of the previous songs, it’s the band adding their own identity and a little garage band attitude to the genre and showing that despite originally being formed forty years ago they can still stand proud next to the new breed; those who were impressed by the Lemon Twigs should check the Innocents out and start with this title track. 60's pyschedelia makes a fleeting appearance on ‘Atum Gleams’ both lyrically and musically. The gentle love song ‘We Can Be Free’ throws up yet another side to the band; a gorgeous melody with heartfelt vocals make this track a standout on the album. It’s at odds to most of the rest of the album especially ‘Waiting’ which will have you thinking of the Rolling Stones as the song starts. ‘I’m So Over You’ is another cut that owes more to the snotty garage band sound than it does to what is generally accepted as classic power pop; maybe it’s this attitude that makes the album so interesting, mixing other elements into what is expected to keep the sound fresh, with even Britney Spears getting a name check.
‘The Mouse That Roared’ is another of the more mellow tracks; again the melody is simply gorgeous and the arrangement and production bring out the best in Touber’s lyrics. Smith’s only writing contribution, ‘You’re Not The Man’, displays the angular shapes that the band throw into other songs occasionally, has a killer chorus and some of the best vocal arrangements on the whole album. The dramatic ‘Memories of You’ has a handful of theatrical touches, showing that the band is not afraid to take risks and step out of the power pop comfort zone.
‘Teardrop Kiss’ is a diverse set of songs, while never betraying their power pop roots the band has left their own unique mark on the genre with these thirteen songs. While it would have been enough to have a dozen songs of the quality of the poppy ‘Acland Street’ the inclusion of songs that step outside of the genre that the band are known for makes for a more satisfying listen in the long term.
With a cover that will raise a smile on the face of those who remember the ‘Crusin’ series of compilations. ‘Teardrop Kiss’ will appeal to not just those power pop fans but anyone who loves classic, intelligent pop and rock. With the involvement of Michael Carpenter how could the album fail?
1 Every Moment Matters
2 Strangers In The Park
3 Teardrop Kiss
4 Atum Gleams
5 We Can Be free
7 You're Not The Man
8 Change Of Scenery
9 Memories Of You
10 AAcland St
12 I'm So Over You
13 The Mouse That Soared