Chris Stamey

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Euphoria Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Chris Stamey spent much of Lovesick Blues luxuriating in a hazily romantic twilight, but he eases himself into the bright light of a new day on its 2015 successor, Euphoria. That so much of this new day is quite deliberately reliant on yesterday doesn't signal a creeping nostalgia as much as Stamey's comfort with building upon his power pop past. Certainly, he's spent much of the new millennium revisiting his roots, whether it was staging tribute concerts to Big Star 3rd or reuniting the dB's, but Euphoria is where he consolidates these dalliances with yesteryear and marries them to modern sensibilities. Often, Euphoria plays like a quick history of every kind of music Stamey has ever played or loved, rooted deeply in the thick chime of Big Star -- "Where Does the Time Go?" is as perfect an evocation of #1 Record as he's ever made -- but also taking detours in elastic psychedelia, open-ended '80s jangle pop, a spot of fuzz-toned guitar crunch, love-lorn balladeering, and even a bit of Americana songcraft arriving in the form of Ryan Adams' made-to-order opener "Universe-Sized Arms." Adams' presence is only felt via song, but Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake makes a cameo, as do Django Haskins from Old Ceremony and Wilco's Pat Sansone, but the most notable guest is Stamey's old friend Mitch Easter, who also provided his studio, Fidelitorium, for a chunk of the recording. Easter's presence strengthens Euphoria's power pop lineage, but what makes the record so terrific -- and it is one of Stamey's best albums -- is how it crackles with a vitality that makes the strong song and studio craft feel vibrant and alive, not a stale exercise in pining for the way things used to be.

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