Gay Dad 

Transmission

Did you ever blast the transistor under your pillow loud enough to risk your mom storming in? Unfortunately, after you hit a certain age, pop fails to inspire as it once did. So how long has it been since you've enjoyed a hit? A real hum-it-all-day, candy-coat-your-cortex, can't-stop-movin', fall-in-love, make-you-feel-like-a-movie-star hit? A tune so hot it can even induce you to believe you're devastatingly attractive screaming it at the intersection? If you can't remember, fire up the title track of Gay Dad's Transmission. It starts with a few seconds of techno stuttering that becomes the salty counterpoint to some rare, heavenly sugar; the confection of white soul, massive pop hooks, and arena bombast that once exclusively wore the label "power-pop." And not least, it's got this cascading, neon chorus -- "I wanna get hiiiiiiiigh onnnnn you-woo-woo" -- strung out on such concentrated puppy love you'll forget to be embarrassed as you sing along.

Transmission the album, however, honors that more timeless convention of padding out a brilliant single into a full-price long-player. Yup, none of the eleven tracks that follow "Transmission" catch fire, from the Moogy sci-fi glam of "Now Always and Forever" to the closing "Promise of a Miracle," an Escape Club-meets-Prodigy headache that couldn't be more diabolical if it were part of a covert marketing scheme for Tylenol.

Singer/mastermind Cliff Jones would probably beg to differ more shrewdly with such criticism than would most popsters, judging from the strident, nonpunctuated postmodernist manifesto printed on the sleeve ("The world money markets are exploiting you I am an anarchist I am a sporty spice rocket 88 was the best and the last great rock moment"). He's a rock critic himself, so he probably even has an academic thesis on the gimmicky band name. But he'd have a rough time arguing that this is an album. If you're after sustained thrills, go for Gay Dad's 1999 release Leisure Noise.

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