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Delightful debut from power pop dream team

USUALLY we hear, as explanation, that an artist was "before their time." In the case of Pet Sounds, which prompted Nik Cohn to claim Brian Wilson wrote "sad songs about loneliness and heartache, sad songs even about happiness," initial sales were disappointing. As Wilson's wife remarked: "People weren't ready for it. It was too much of a shock."

Maybe I was rushing too much when The New Mendicants' debut EP, Australia, arrived for it to click. Luckily, there are no such problems with this 10-track debut album, which clocks in with just over 31 minutes of sonic bliss.

gLORIOUS

The dog days of the post-Yuletide blowout is the ideal season to drift along with the glorious harmonies of the trio, which came together when Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) hooked up with Joe Pernice in Toronto over a year ago.

Low-key bar gigs led to some songwriting and the addition of Mike Belisky from The Sadies on drums. It's another power pop dream team.

The clever chaps include an excellent ditty that's sure to become a staple of the growing cannon of festive favourites. A Very Sorry Christmas avoids sleigh bells and false bonhomie, opting instead for inner torment and heartbreak wrapped in a seductive, keening jangle. "I hurt so many people on the way. . . I only want a chance to say I'm sorry. . .", it goes. You'll enjoy this as easily on a summer beach as shivering in a cold flat.

* NDERGROUND

Comparing these guys to The Byrds is like saying Tommy Cooper was like Joe Cocker. But the term 'Paisley Underground' certainly covers it.

The harmonies on If You Only Knew Her have a warming, narcotic feel. The frug-inducing Cruel Annette could have made it onto the Fabs' Help! soundtrack as a George Harrison offering.

Included is Sandy Denny's By The Time It Gets Dark, a song only released posthumously and since covered by Yo La Tengo and Mary Black with Emmylou Harris. And the title track is a delight.

HHHII

The New Mendicants perform at Whelan's on Friday, January 24, as part of their short European tour


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