One of the great Supreme Court justices, Potter Stewart coined the aphorism “I know it when I see it.” He was talking about pornography, but the idea carries over to most any pursuit of a creative/subjective character. So it is with music. I don’t know how to tell you what “postpunk” is, but I know it when I hear it.
So is Sour Ops postpunk? Well, sorta-kinda. To my ears, their melodic values are strong enough to suggest that third rail of music journalists, power pop. But there’s a sincerity and authenticity – and a lack of slavish artifice – that makes that tag less than a good fit for this Nashville outfit.
The songs are strong. The singing’s impassioned and on pitch (and those backing vox are a treat). The playing is rock solid, never showy, always in service to the songs. The arrangements are straightforward and clean, yet filled with all manner of subtly inspired choices. Band leader/singer/songwriter/producer Price Harrison knows how to channel emotional content into songs with wide apparel. Listen closely and you’ll detect an encyclopedic knowledge and deep understanding of rock traditions. In a fair and just world, Sour Ops would rule the airwaves. But this is 2022, so that won’t happen. But do your part – and do it for yourself – and pick up this, quite possibly one of the year’s finest offerings.
Oh, and yeah: the intro to the title track is, um, familiar. And that’s okay.