EP Review: Speedfossil – Room With a VU, Vol. 1

Nice ‘n’ crunchy guitars, clear and exuberant vocals, catchy melodies and sharp hooks: those are the main ingredients of the subgenre we call power pop. They’re in ample supply on this five-song EP from Speedfossil. Guitarist Garret Vendermolen is more than talented enough to handle the lead vocals on his own, but the group adds guest lead singer Linda Bean Pardee (from The Chelsea Curve) for “Sweetheart,” and the results are a delight. When the two trade off leads it works very well, and when they harmonize it’s truly special.

The tracks come rapid-fire, with little space in between; the result is not unlike a super-tight band tearing through the first five songs in their live set, saving hellos for afterward. But the instrumentation changes up subtly between each: “Magic Trick” folds in some nice, uncluttered organ. And the vocal harmonies are still there, just without Pardee. The character of the songs is reminiscent The Candy Butchers.

There’s a melancholy, minor key jangle for “Frozen Drops of Fire.” The middle eight features handclaps and a shift to a major key; Beatlesque for sure, but what works, works. The twangy guitar solo is a nice touch as well. The intro to “IRL” is likely to confuse younger listeners – what are those sounds, they’ll wonder – but the rest of us will chuckle inwardly. It’s been done before, but it’s done well here, and it makes sense in context. The (real) brass flourishes are a nice touch.

“She’s Doing Fine” takes a while to get going, but once it does, it’ll draw you in. These five songs are varied enough to keep things interesting, but similar enough to display a defined character for the group. The “Vol. 1” of the title whets an appetite for the next entry, and the press kit says a vinyl record is to come, featuring both volumes. Here’s looking forward to both from this outfit.

Postscript: I had forgotten until just now, but I reviewed an earlier release from these guys a couple of years ago.