If Jellyfish had added bouncy dance pop to their primary influences alongside inspirations like Supertramp, Wings and Queen, they might have sounded something like The Orion Experience. Released in 2006, Cosmicandy sounds like a thrilling combination of The Cars, Blondie, Green Day, The Muffs, The B-52s, The Pandoras and ABBA. Or something. These giddy, saucy and exuberant songs blow by, blasting more hooks and memorable licks than the law allows. Chirpy, sweet vocal harmonies coexist with power-chording guitar blasts and a propulsive rhythm section that simply won’t quit. The spotlight track, “The Cult of Dionysus” has earned 78 million Spotify plays, and regardless of what that figure means (or doesn’t mean) to you, it represents an indicator of the wide-scale appeal of this delightful group.
The bouncy reggae feel of “Obsessed With You” will draw in even those listeners who aren’t moved by reggae. The song’s straightforwardly naughty lyrics are the icing on top. The arrangements are stellar, and while there’s a through-line of consistent character to the ten songs on the record, The Orion Experience isn’t about writing the same tune ten different ways; the variety is baked into the recipe. My favorite cut might be “Adrianne,” but there are many, many choices here. “Your New Boyfriend” is faintly reminiscent of Michael Bublé’s “Just Haven’t Met you Yet,” and that’s meant as praise.
And for what it’s worth, the new cover art improves significantly over the 2006 cover. Hearkening back to a time when album packaging mattered to artists (and labels), the LP includes a full-color lyric sheet. My copy is pressed on translucent, eye-popping amber vinyl. Highly, highly recommended, and a strong contender for my Best of 2022 list, coming in late December. (When else?) As Andy Partridge would say, THIS. IS. POP.