When it comes to trios, there’s power and finesse. “A Heaping Help of Perspective” marks the Conniption Fits’ first outing as a three-piece (guitarist Tuck Stocking left after 2006’s “Airplane Rides”), and fortunately, they opted for the latter.
For their second album, the Fairlee-based band eschew crushing chords for tasteful guitar figures and expert singing, while resisting the temptation to overproduce, trusting a well-oiled core unit do its work.
Don’t get me wrong – the record is not without punch and swagger. You’d expect nothing less from a band that made their bones satiating bar patrons hungry for Foo Fighters and Gin Blossoms covers. Heck, guitarist Stevens Blanchard alone has been at it for half his life.
It just doesn’t need to beat listeners over the head to prove that it rocks.
Examples? The roiling “Game of Grace,” which opens like a power pop version of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” Or “Grit Your Teeth,” with a middle bridge evocative of “Synchronicity,” a runaway train of a song done by perhaps the finest finesse trio of them all, the Police.
The best moments come when guitarist Stevens Blanchard, drummer Seth Roya and bass player Erik Von Geldern blend modern angst with Big 80’s gusto. This Weezer meets Def Leppard formula is evident on the perfectly executed “Get Off.” The track features reggae-rock interludes mixed with lush three-part harmonies (all the band members sing, and there’s nary an overdub).
The record’s short – just 8 songs total, but it’s 30 minutes of real chemistry, self-produced with no sidemen. For the most part, it has precision without sounding labored, spontaneity without feeling too loose. The energy level never flags (there’s only one ballad, the dreamy, disc-ending “Time Remains”), and there’s a constant sense that these guys thoroughly enjoy playing together.
“Willing To Try Again” succeeds where the overly frenetic “(She Just Needs to Go) Away” fails, going from a whisper to a scream with poise and nuance. Despite somewhat clumsy lyrics (“I need a crutch and one that’s not worn down” – huh?), this is also true on “Come Undone (Only Me to Blame)” – a close contender with “Get Off” for the record’s best track.
The song starts out teasing at being a ballad, then riffs a bit of rock and reggae (the album’s Police homage tendencies becomes clear with the liner notes, which thank Sting and Messrs. Copeland and Summers by name). In between jazz-tinged drum runs and juicy guitar jangle, it soars into rock and roll heaven.
Whether consumed a la carte or by the whole disc, “A Heaping Helping of Perspective” is a delicious platter of music. The record is available on iTunes, CD Baby and the band’s web site, with select tracks streaming on MySpace.
Upcoming Conniption Fits appearances:
Jun 13 2009 The Woodstock Inn Woodstock, NH
Jul 11 2009 The Woodstock Inn Woodstock, NH
Jul 17 2009 Connecticut Valley Fair Bradford, VT
Sep 4 2009 Derryfield Country Club Manchester, NH
Oct 10 2009 Shenanigans White River Junction, VT