Explorers Club: Explorers Club

Bright rays of sunshine pop

Jason Brewer’s fourth album as the Explorers Club finds him relocated to Nashville and fronting friends and studio musicians, rather than a set band. The results show the strength of Brewer’s musical vision as he expands well beyond the Pet Sounds / Smiley Smile stylings of earlier albums with 60s-tinged pop that flows with the airy feel of Boettcher, Bacharach, Usher and others. And he does so without landing hard on any one; there are echoes, such as the piano of “Ruby” drawing upon Three Dog Night’s “One” and vocals suggesting the Turtles; but, winningly, the songs never linger on any one influence long enough to be branded imitative. Brewer has so deeply internalized ‘60s and ‘70s pop that his creations are inevitably shaped by the era’s melodic, instrumental, vocal and production style, without overtly copying.

The album deftly combines guitar, bass and drums with rich vocal harmonies, strings and horns, the latter suggesting the Buckinghams on “One Drop of Rain,” cooing coyly on “Don’t Cry,” and turning boozy for “Dreamin’.” The album stretches into burning neo-psych for “Somewhere Else,” adding an extra touch of surreality with its oddly time-signatured breaks. The closing “Look to the Horizon” has a timely, optimistic message of better days ahead, though with this album in hand (along with the companion volume of covers, To Sing and Be Born Again), listeners will find their mood improved today. [©2020 Hyperbolium]

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