By the early '90s, it was hardly unusual for a band of hip young upstarts to worship at the power pop altar of bands like Big Star, Badfinger, and the Raspberries, but Jellyfish were unusual in that they also folded in a healthy portion of Cheap Trick fandom, and rather than merely admiring Cheap Trick's impressive way with a tune, they also coveted their ability to pump this sound up to arena size, and were determined to go them one better. On Jellyfish's debut album, Bellybutton, group leaders Andy Sturmer and Roger Manning had all the key ingredients of classic power pop down cold -- the sweet but biting melodies, the addictive hooks, the gorgeous stacks of harmonies, and the '60s-styled musical accents -- and then revved them up with rock star-proportioned drums and guitars on tunes like "All I Want Is Everything" (itself a canny parody of hard rock excess) and "The King Is Half Undressed," while letting their savvy production polish do the talking on "I Wanna Stay Home" and the almost-hit "Baby's Coming Back." Even the more subdued tunes on Bellybutton have a charming swagger and the playful confidence that reveals a rock star in training, and if Jellyfish often sounded like they were projecting to the last row in the upper deck on Bellybutton, they also sounded like they had the talent and the savvy to actually fill an arena with this stuff in a better world, and having Jason Falkner joining them on guitar didn't hurt one bit. Nirvana would release Nevermind 14 months later, drastically changing the playing field for left-of-the-dial music, but Bellybutton made it clear Jellyfish had more than enough talent and charisma to break out of the "alternative" ghetto with the right breaks, and if they didn't quite get them, at least they left behind a great pop record that also rocks hard, no small achievement.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming