By Reed Fischer
By Anna Gulbrandsen
By Jeff Gage
By Stacy Schwartz
By Natalie Gallagher
By Erik Thompson
By Jeff Gage
By Loren Green
Alive Before the Iceberg
DAVID GEFFEN'S FIRST Seattle export, the Posies, went major in 1990, when grunge was still a mildew menace to be battled with Soft Scrub. Now represented on this strong hitting-the-highs collection, the Posies can be seen as having produced some first-rate bittersweet pop music, even if the band never achieved even second-rate popularity.
Hatched during the retro-pop movement that would culminate in Lenny Kravitz's Mama Said and Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend, the Posies' first DGC-funded disc shimmered with reverb-drenched psychedelia and spurred a new crop of rock crits to add "Beatlesesque" to their spell-check dictionaries. But the Posies smelled nothing like teen spirit, and America opted for a darker, noisier Seattle: more power, less flower. The Posies turned up the volume and rose to the challenge admirably on Frosting on the Beater: "Dream All Day" rocks with newfound confidence, and "Flavor of the Month" gobs juicily on everyone who had been invited to record for the Singles soundtrack.
Late-period Posies returned to a more sprawling sound. Amazing Disgrace substitutes teenage angst for adult vitriol ("Everybody Is a Fucking Liar") while leaving room for the joyful gem of a name-check, "Grant Hart." And 1998's swan song Success looks ahead in a way that a band's final album rarely does. "Start a Life" and "You're the Beautiful One" make good on the pop salvation that the Posies promised early on. Their struggling career became the subtext of many of their songs--a dubious trope, indeed--but always with just enough sonic sugar: If their studio-baked fantasy world was too personal a cake for a mass audience, the Posies knew that a finger in the frosting beats no taste at all.
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