The beauties of power pop are many and varied but not the least of its charms is how adaptable it is to the complete range of human emotions. Feeling wonderful? Power pop’s a great medium for expression. Feeling ambivalent? Go with power pop. Feeling low? It’s somehow pretty good for that too. Case in point, “Gone, Baby Gone,” which as far as I can tell is dealing with a bummer of some kind (I’m guessing, mind you, but the entire thing does end with the words “It hurts like hell”). And yet it does so with the same package of spiky-crunchy guitar riffs, rumbly drums, and killer chorus, complete with a sub-chorus, that a more lyrically upbeat effort might put on display. It’s a great thing, that power pop.
The genre seems to go best with higher male voices, so Meridene does well with the vocal services of Trevor Ives, who also plays guitar. It’s Ives’ responsibility here, in fact, to sell us on the mood of the song, since the upbeat music misdirects us. He does this quite well, in part by channeling a bit of early-Police-era Sting, alternating in tone between forceful exhortation and a breathier sort of resignation. The song’s stomping succinctness also suggests something darker than lighter. Notice, after all, that we only hear the terrific chorus two times; happier songs tend to overstay their welcome a bit more readily. And notice too, as long as you’re noticing things, how the chorus is enhanced big-time by three subtle touches: 1) the lead-in from a so-called “sub-chorus”—a separate part of the song that is neither verse nor chorus; 2) some awesome but subtle chord changes underneath the anthemic melody; 3) some awesome but subtle harmonies underneath the same anthemic melody.
Meridene is a quartet from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. “Gone, Baby Gone” is a song—sixth track, actually; impressive—from the band’s second full-length album, Something Like Blood, due out on Eau Claire-based Amble Down Records in September. MP3 via Amble Down; thanks to Largehearted Boy for the lead.