John Hoskinson

Pancho Fantastico

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Anyone who thinks the great and glorious days of power pop are over is presumably unaware of the work of John Hoskinson, who has a way with a hook and a melody that's little short of thrilling and a sense of humor that ensures he won't follow the unfortunate path into sappiness of Eric Carmen. Kicking off with a superb Brian Wilson pastiche (complete with breathy harmonies) about falling in love with the wrong girl, Pancho Fantastico moves from style to style with an easy confidence and dazzling skill -- witness the jazzy bounce of "Creepy," the joyously woozy psychedelia of "Guaranteed," the blue-eyed soul stomp of "Make It Come True," the wink and nod to Badfinger of "She Makes Me Yawn," the Brill Building polish of "Just Think it Over," the acoustic-based sadness of "We Can Never Be Friends" and the punky energy of "Please Stay Off My Side." Hoskinson and his talented crew of studio helpers bring these tunes to life with the shape-shifting skill of a chameleon, hitting the right note throughout, and Hoskinson's vocals can roar or sigh with equal gravity. In the great tradition of pop songwriting, Hoskinson appears to have some problems with women, but he also seems to have a sense of humor about it, and his romantic travails, played alternately straight and for laughs, are fine accompaniment to these 13 samples of pop genius. Smart, funny and a joy to hear, Pancho Fantastico is a minor masterpiece from a guy who hopefully has more tunes this good up his sleeve.

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