Don’t fight it. You won’t be able to. Semisonic’s latest release, Feeling Strangely Fine will have you regurgitating the tunes long after the CD has ended. The trio from Minneapolis has released a well-balanced four-course sophomore spread following their strong debut of Great Divide in 1996.
A spinoff of Trip Shakespeare, Semisonic has a knack for writing infectious power pop songs that hook you good in the gills and reel you in quickly. The three-part harmonies and sharp guitar licks never tire. Nor do the bandmates, (Dan Wilson, vocals/guitar; John Munson, bass; Jacob Slichter, drums) often playing different instruments simultaneously. In concert, you can witness drummer Slichter tapping away at a synthesizer with his right hand while his left handles drum duties. Oh, and he’s also offering background vocals. Hmmm? Maybe they can rig a trumpet up to his nose?
Singing in my Sleep, a song about a long distance relationship kept alive through the exchanges of mixed tapes, is a song just aching to be a hit. Dan Wilson shows off his vocal strength, taking his yearning voice out for a test drive, never looking back.
Got your tape and it changed my mindIn the sexed-up Completely Pleased, Semisonic borrows a cup of funk from their Twin Cities neighbor, Prince, and blends in a pinch of pure sonic groove that is sure to get you shifting in your seat and feeling dirty.
Heard your voice in between the lines
Come around from another time
Where nobody ever goes
All alone on the overpass
Wired and phoned to a heart of glass
Now I’m falling in love too fast
With you or the songs you chose
Look beyond the cheez-whiz keyboard plunkings throughout that sound as if your 10-year-old niece is sitting in with her portable Casio. Somehow Semisonic makes this work.
Closing Time, This Will Be My Year and Gone to the Movies are other standouts on a CD that will likely push these guys out of the “Unpopular S” category in record store racks and into their own, where they belong.