When Q and Not U broke up some five years ago, all three members took off in different directions and set up a host of other projects. The drummer of the post-hardcore outfit, John Davis, perhaps headed in the most intriguing direction with the creation of the power pop "group" Title Tracks.
Davis essentially is Title Tracks, although he recruits players for live performances and has a couple of guests chime in on It Was Easy, his first full-length record under the moniker.
It Was Easy is an easy (forgive me), affable, pleasant experience. Davis has the power pop thing pegged and the straightforward, almost bouncy approach he takes to his craft results in incredibly infectious grooves and some surprisingly pensive moments.
Perhaps the most likable thing about this record and Title Tracks in general is the understated approach taken with damn well everything. While I wouldn’t consider this to be a record of minimalistic pop tunes, Davis does know and practice the “less is more” creed confidently. He manages minute, intimate arrangements, but never shies away from majestic, plaintive gestures either.
It Was Easy opens with “Every Little Bit Hurts,” a sort of bubbly earworm built on a straightforward chord progression and Davis’ ordinary vocals. It calls to mind Vampire Weekend.
“Black Bubblegum” is a 1950s commercial jingle with an unsettling edge. Introduced with acoustic guitar, the cut morphs into what could easily be a doo-wop piece. Davis’ insistent refrain of “You know what you’ve got to do” lends a touch of poppy derision.
As good as this record is when it fires on all of its pop cylinders, it’s even better when Davis takes a breather and breaks out the Casio keyboard on Springsteen’s “Tougher Than the Rest.” Joined by Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell, the track is deliberate and haunting. Davis’ humble tenor melds flawlessly with Campbell’s thriving, stylish tones and the results are just all kinds of beautiful.
The whispered “At Fifteen” is another model of Davis’ softer side. The song’s malleable quality wraps around the lyrics like a spirit in the dark. “Love of my life, I know you’re waiting for me,” Davis sings optimistically.
Title Tracks’ It Was Easy is a rewarding record that calls to mind bands like New Pornographers. Davis’ endeavour, if given a little time and perhaps a few added permanent players to gel with, should be one worth paying attention to.