Zumpano

Goin' Through Changes

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Vancouver-based quartet Zumpano had hinted at their soft pop roots on their 1995 debut, Look What the Rookie Did, covering Jimmy Webb's "Rosecrans Boulevard" and investing originals like "Oh That Atkinson Girl" with a definite Brian Wilson influence, but the overall sound of the disc was crunchy pop along the lines of late-period Redd Kross. The follow-up, Goin' Through Changes, largely dispenses with the power chords in favor of a sweet-natured, flowery strain of sunny pop tunes that un-self-consciously betray a deep fascination with the more ornate side of '60s songsmithery without sounding the least bit retro. Singer and primary songwriter Carl Newman is clearly a fan not only of Wilson and Webb, but Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, and Todd Rundgren, but unlike many of their contemporaries, Zumpano maintains a freshness and enthusiasm that keeps even the more tributary tracks (like "Broca's Way," which sounds like it could have come off of Love's Forever Changes) from sounding like stiff, careful homages to past idols. Other tunes, like "Let's Fight" and the spirited opener "Behind the Beehive," recall the lighter side of Sloan, or even (dare one say it) the better moments of '70s bubble-rockers like the Sweet or the Bay City Rollers. Goin' Through Changes is a terrific album, which makes Zumpano's extended layoff following it that much more frustrating.

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