A magical pseudo-genre that has never quite arrived nor disappeared, power pop exists through sheer force of will. At least since the Records assured us that the writ has hit the fan, if not before, there have been musicians who want to write songs that do this, whatever “this” exactly is. I’ve opined intermittently on the elusive charm of power pop (see in particular the post accompanying the Power Pop, Vol. 1 playlist), but every time a band rouses itself into full power pop mode, even now, at this disconcertingly late date, I feel energized and ready to wave the happy flag yet again. I mean, it was one thing for bands to offer up neo-power pop in the ’90s and early ’00s, but now that rock’n’roll has (who saw this coming?) been tickled to death by the cotton-ball assault of indie pop, bands that have the chutzpah to write melodic through-lines and play instruments (not to mention percussion) in three-dimensional space should be protected by the World Wildlife Fund.
Anyway: “Push Me Over” is a particular kind of power pop, which might be usefully labeled power power pop for its husky edge and determined drive; classic power pop often presents with a more obvious layer of sweetness. Yet sweetness is in the mix here too—in the background “oo-oos,” in the determined if not poignant piano line, in a chorus melody as plaintive as it is rousing, and perhaps most centrally (albeit also intangibly), in that lyrical lagniappe at the end of the verse, featuring the recurring phrase “if only for a while.” Through it all, singer Johan Landin proves once and for all that power pop is not merely an exercise for honey-toned tenors, as his expressive but controlled baritone delivers with its own kind of “what is the world coming to?” ache.
And maybe that’s the as-yet-undiscussed key to the mystery that power pop remains—that, at their best, power pop songs consistently exhibit this “I can’t go on, I’ll go on” pluck that, if not fully Beckettian, still pushes them deeper into the psyche than one might initially suspect they would go.
Centimeter, from Stockholm, were a quartet when first featured here on Fingertips in 2012, for the song “Motorhead”. They are now a trio. “Push Me Over” is a single that was released this summer, and it is the band’s first recording since their 2013 album 70.