Converted last week into a big fan of IFC’s loopy sketch comedy Portlandia, I supposed it’s only natural to find myself gravitating this week to the exuberant, Portland-infused idiosyncrasy of Jared Mees and the Grown Children. We’ve been there before, you and I, just this past September, when Mees & Co. were in between albums. The previously fluid ensemble has since solidified into a line-up of five, and has a new album on the horizon, for which “Hungry Like a Tiger” is the lead track.
And quite a lead track it is, with its toe-tapping drive, its effortless melodic hook, its ear-worthy lyrics, and—hail, Portlandia!—its intermittent tendency to unravel the momentum with pensive interludes, not to mention its meta awareness of itself as a song. This rollicking tune hints at the crazy energy the band surely offers its live audiences; yet for all its loosey-goosey ambiance, the song is likewise a study in discipline and restraint. With a seemingly endless number of instruments up their sleeves, Mees and the gang nevertheless refrain from barraging us with kitchen-sink assemblage, pulling out the cello, the trumpet, the Hammond organ just exactly when they are required and no more. The Hammond in fact waits to come out till the end (4:04), at which point it gets a kicking little solo. Note that it’s hard for an instrument you haven’t otherwise heard to enter late in the game and not sound out of place or distracting. Note that the Hammond sounds perfect here.
The album Only Good Thoughts Can Stay, the band’s second, is coming in May via the Portland, Ore.-based media and arts collective/record label/comics imprint/consignment store/gallery/other things Tender Loving Empire, which Mees runs with his wife Brianne. How PDX of him.