People always seem to get excited about a new supergroup. Why? It's the rock equivalent of the Justice League Of America. Like watching Superman, Batman, and Aquaman all team up to fight, side by side.
From Cream to Asia to Damn Yankees to the Raconteurs, there's a fascination in seeing how distinct personalities and combined superpowers will gel (Traveling Wilburys) or, in some cases, not gel (Velvet Revolver).
The latest supergroup, this one of the power pop persuasion, features Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne, Ivy), James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick) and Taylor Hanson (Hanson).
When I first heard the line-up, I thought, "Hanson? Really?" But as lead singer, the junior member of Tinted Windows not only acquits himself nicely, but injects a youthful zeal that brings slight pop tunes like "Messing With My Head," "Can't Get A Read On You," and "Cha Cha" to life. What his voice sometimes lacks in distinctive character (on first spin, I admit I found myself wishing Chris Collingwood or Robin Zander would step up to the mic), it makes up for in enthusiasm and energy.
Speaking of Robin Zander, if there is a touchstone here, it is early Cheap Trick. Though the writing duties are shared by Schlesinger, Iha, and Hanson, it is somehow Carlos' band -- not to mention his solid, Ringo-esque drumming -- that shines through. Standout tracks like "Kind Of A Girl," "Dead Serious," and "Without Love" would've sounded right at home on In Color or Heaven Tonight.
Tinted Windows is a great summertime record, full of catchy, lightweight songs of the boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl variety. It's perfect for a drive into the city or a weekend pool party. Given that it doesn't aspire to much more than that, it hardly seems fair to level my one main criticism, which is that after six songs, it all starts to sound a bit same-y. But then, you could say that about the first Cheap Trick album too.