The Get Gos Action Hour

Paul Melancon

Independent release, 2020

http://www.paulmelancon.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/08/2020

The rock opera is by now a venerable institution, a creative leap taken by bands from The Who to Green Day, with varying degrees of success. More unique is the “power-popera” – as Paul Melancon has coined this album’s form -- an album of (mostly) power-pop songs telling the story of the rather Scooby-Doo-ish animated Saturday-morning-cartoon band The Get-Gos. The only thing that feels remotely similar in my experience is The Poppin’ Wheelies, an early 2000s creation of the Gin Blossoms’ Robin Wilson.

On The Get-Gos Action Hour! singer-songwriter-guitarist Melancon uses his imaginary ’70s cartoon show as the frame for a set of songs that sometimes feel like they’re advancing a narrative, but more often feel like they’re connected as much by vibe and mood as storyline. That might sound scattershot in theory, but it hangs together nicely in execution.

As any self-respecting made-up cartoon series should, The Get Gos Action Hour! kicks off with a bouncy, catchy 40-second theme song. First full track “Permanent Makeup” then sets the foundation for the album’s punchy-yet-cerebral vibe as Melancon and his tight band – Jonny Daly (guitars), Lee Kennedy (bass), Pete McDade (drums), and Debra Tala (keys & vocals) – power through sharp verses and potent choruses about the emotional masks we put on for one another.

If that sounds a touch hi-brow lyrically for an album built around cartoon characters, it really just signals what a clever and playful host Melancon is, as the band segues right into “Robot World,” a sweet, goofy novelty that deploys guitar and keyboard effects atop a robotic rhythm section to pull you the rest of the way into its kitschy world. Next up, “This Shaky Lullaby” offers an expansive ballad mixing Beatlesque guitars with Broadway dynamics, before things get frantic again with the simultaneously airy and urgent “Hyperventilate.” The first half of the album—which is formally divided into Part 1 and 2, like a vinyl LP—finishes with the propulsive yet foreboding “The New Decay.”my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Part 2 opens on a more somber note, as Melancon follows a billowy retro ballad (“St. Cecilia”) with a spare acoustic rumination (“When Do We Get Smaller?”). The energetic vibe reasserts with “Fitzcarraldo,” retelling the plot of the 1982 film of the same name, about a late 19th-century would-be rubber baron who convinces a group of Peruvian natives to help him drag a massive steamship through the jungle separating two rivers. I can’t explain what it’s doing here any better than I can explain Fitzcarraldo’s mission, but the song is solidly executed.

Things get full-on strange with “Mareación,” an 11-minute suite that feels like a power-pop group abruptly decided to jump ahead from Revolver and try their hand at Dark Side Of The Moon. The five-part piece evolves from a plaintive acoustic-and-vocals opening into a throbbing, far heavier second section that finds Melancon declaring that “The darkness is just the distance between the stars” as the band spins wilder and wilder circles around him. And then it all falls back into a gentle rhythm for the airy, soulful third section, which trails along pleasantly before erupting into a hurricane of rolling synths and wailing guitars that eventually recedes into a reprise of the acoustic opening. Wait, what? But for all the seeming disconnection with what came before, “Mareación” adds up to a fine bit of genre-hopping prog.

The album finishes strong with keening, expansive ballad “Here And Now I Was” and the tight, anthemic “The Answer Is Yes,” a sort of manifesto to sincerity and positivity that stays ringing in your ears even as the closing notes fade away.

The glue holding this set of songs together is the strength of the arrangements, which veer from psychedelia to airy ballads to punchy, spiky power-pop, all rendered by Melancon and band with both precision and infectious enthusiasm. The Get-Gos Action Hour! achieves what any good album should: it takes you on a journey and introduces you to intriguing characters and situations along the way. And while I don’t feel like I came away with a clear understanding of how all the pieces of the narrative fit together, I also don’t think it matters. Charming, energetic, thoughtful and inventive, The Get-Gos Action Hour! is animated in all the best ways.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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