Album Review: The Cyrkle – Revival

Remember the Cyrkle? No? C’mon; think harder. The mid-60’s group scored a pair of Top 40 successes, first with Paul Simon’s pop confection “Red Rubber Ball” and again with “Turn Down Day.” The Cyrkle then landed the break of a lifetime: an opening spot for The Beatles’ U.S. tour. Unfortunately, that gig wouldn’t change the band’s fortunes or long-term prospects in a meaningful way; they didn’t trouble the charts again. Though there was that soundtrack album for a pornographic film (no, really). And that could have been the end of the story; for quite a long time, indeed it was.

But a couple of generations later, original members Don Dannemann and Mike Losekamp teamed up with a Columbus, Ohio comedy-and-oldies cover band called the Gas Pump Jockeys, reviving the Cyrkle name. Coming full circle (groan…sorry), they played gigs and released a live album in 2017. And now in 2024 they have returned with the pointedly-titled Revival. Two other members from back-when guest on a couple of songs, and drummer extraordinaire Rick Menck (Velvet Crush, Matthew Sweet) plays on one cut. The songs are a decidedly mixed bag of originals, covers, outside compositions and remakes. Peppy hand claps and twinkly arrangements abound, skirting (and mostly steering clear of) the edges of the rock aesthetic but mainly hewing close to the sugary, lightweight pop that earned the Cyrkle its successes in the ‘60s.

“The Visit” and “Singing for Tomorrow” are the highest points, both featuring a chirpy, bubblegum sound and freshly-scrubbed style that recalls the Bob Crewe Generation. The obligatory remakes (“The 59th Street Bridge Song” and the Cyrkle’s two biggest hits) aren’t strictly necessary, but they’re well-executed and ultimately do no harm. While this album is something of a curious outlier in the Big Stir stable, it does check the “pop” box. No more consequential than the ’60s era configuration of the group, this outing will nonetheless please fans of music that doesn’t seek to challenge listeners. (And hey, there’s certainly a place for such music; not everybody wants to rock.) And by that measure, it’s nice enough.

(By the way, the porn soundtrack is actually better.)