The Well Wishers

Post Modern Romantic

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Although other musicians frequently help him out and some do so on a more regular basis than others, the Well Wishers are really just singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Shelton, who had been writing, performing, and recording under the Well Wishers name for 17 years when his fifth full-length album appeared in 2010. Drummer Nick Laquintano plays alongside him throughout the album, and a couple of other guitarists and one bassist contribute on a couple of other tracks as well, but otherwise Post Modern Romantic sounds like it's all Shelton. His sound treads a fine line between power pop and pop-punk, and it will be catnip to anyone who has a taste for bands like the Posies, Material Issue, and even early Cheap Trick: equal parts crunchy and sweet, texturally tough but shimmeringly pretty at the same time, and filled with lots of good, satisfying melodic hooks. The punkier tracks on this album are among its best: "Hanging On," "Grammareater," and an excellent cover version of the Nils' "Fountains" all fall into that category, but there are also very rewarding forays into slightly nasal jangle pop ("Someone Else") and a loping, slightly country-flavored sort of Marshall Crenshaw sound ("Consequence of Love"). The acoustic-based "As You Are" slows things down and softens things up a bit toward the end, but then "Flatlined" takes the album out with a nearly Hüsker Dü-ish roar. Brilliant.

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