What if I’m just too pooped to power pop? Mad Science Fair is the latest power pop / hard rock band to cross the threshold into my house and it’s either due to the onset of Epstein-Barr or that Mad Science Fair just isn’t all that good to blame for the disinterest and boredom I find whenever I cue up For A Better Tomorrow on the CD shuffle machine.
Mike Clayton formerly of Hot Glue Gun is the man behind the band. The album is produced by Adam Schmitt who has released his own share of underrated power pop gems himself. The label is Mud which is being distributed by Parasol. The ingredients promise crunchy melodies and rousing choruses. Song titles fit the bill: “All I Do Is Wrong”, “Shot On Sight”, “Retro Anthem”, and “Green Day vs. Weezer” will entice you to hear them.
After you hear them you start to wonder about the group’s chance of winning a prize at the science fair of rock, mad or not. “No Room For Error” leads off well even while siphoning off more Foo Fighters than Beatles. The Posies’s influence is all over “All I Do Is Wrong” making it the standout track. Then the album heads off into mid-tempo adult alternative land; a place I always find unhospitable. A song called “Retro Anthem” should have a huge guitar sound and rousing choruses, but the song strikes a middling pose early and carries it through to the end.
The song title “Green Day vs. Weezer” had me thinking the tune would be novel and fun. Instead it’s more medium paced plodding with a refrain of “We’re getting older, we’re getting older” that hints of some generational struggle going on in Clayton’s head. Just come and say which side you’re on. “Leave Me Alone” has the cold appeal of The Cars if they were on steroids going for it, but we all know what steroids does to certain body parts.
I wish that Mad Science Fair would just let it loose once and rock out with some abandon approaching enthusiasm. For A Better Tomorrow is too studied and sterile to convince me or inspire me. Maybe next time Mad Science Fair can posit a future where rock and roll can still touch a primal nerve and prove that power pop can rock.