The Downward Road

The Pursuit Of Happiness

Mercury, 1993

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


Best known for their quirky ‘80s underground hit “I’m An Adult Now,” The Pursuit Of Happiness underwent some notable changes after their disappointing 1990 follow-up. After losing their bassist and female backing vocalist and their record deal, Moe Berg and company toughened up their sound with the help of Ramones producer Ed Stasium. Recorded in California during the L.A. riots, this disc features guitars and drums that are notably louder and heavier than before. But the rest of the band’s charms are still there.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Mainstream single “Cigarette Dangles” is one of the few missteps here. Seemingly a retread of their earlier sound, it fell on deaf ears and may have doomed the record in the States. Still, other tracks like “Nobody But Me” are the equivalent of slamming one’s head against the wall. Loud, aggressive – both musically and lyrically – the song packs a wallop and makes one rethink everything they thought they knew about TPOH. “In Her Dreams” is a more melancholic tune with lyrics that ring true to what Moe Berg knows best: women and what men can do to try and please them.

If it had been an era more receptive to Canadian alt rock, the title track could’ve been a big radio hit. It’s practically tailor-made for it, right down to the very ‘90s guitar solo. The riff that opens “Forbidden World” really makes it a highlight and one of the most important songs in the band’s catalog. It’s just a phenomenal track and one that still sounds great 25 years later.

“Crashing Down” is a song that seemingly belongs on their debut, same lyrical tone and musically at home with previous records. A song like “But I Do” is more midtempo than the rest of the disc but it still sounds good and is a welcome addition to the disc.

“Honeytime” cranks up the volume and picks up the pace a bit; it’s a great track that contains some of Moe’s more intriguing lyrical content. Closing cut “Terrified” is a poppy number about a girl that gets a grip on you and is an interesting way to close such a different and unique record.

Unfortunately, the disc stiffed in America and basically wrapped up their career here as their next two discs were never released here. The Downward Road is a great disc and one of the most underrated records of the ‘90s that got buried by the grunge explosion.

Rating: B+

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