The Posies: Alive Before the Iceberg

 

The Posies
Alive Before the Iceberg
DGC  

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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