Nick Piunti has been one of the cornerstones of the power-pop revival for several years now; the Michigan native has now delivered his latest collection, Temporary High, with an even cleaner sound; a tightness in the songs and an array of textures that make this album even more appealing than his last, 2016’s Trust Your Instincts. This album is threaded together with a thoughtfulness that says he’s moving into even broader territories than previously.
The opening track, which is also the title cut, drives along with a melodic motor that instantly catches your ear and makes you move while turning it up; “You’re Perfect And I’m Not” is a prime example of the quality of Mr. Piunti’s writing; the structure and melody are well-balanced; the harmonies are on point and this screams of “hit single”, if we were still in the era of 45’s and radio. “You Invented Hell” is the perfect counterpoint to “You’re Perfect…” – opening with slashing minor chords and delivered with the just-right amount of bile in the vocals, it’s another instant classic – and the use of Hammond B3 organ is a brilliant touch – to these ears, between the chiming guitar notes, on-the-one solos and the keyboard, it’s a (conscious or otherwise) tribute to Tom Petty.
“If This Was Right” carries on in the same vein, with fully-fleshed out guitar layers (I keep hearing 12-string Rickenbackers), keyboards and restrained vocals that elevated the emotion of the song; “No Return” kicks off in “2nd single” fashion – explosive drums and riffs, going into a strident rhythm and utilizing the beauty of harmonies on the backing vocals to Beatlesque perfection (and you have to love a track that uses call-and-response). “Deep Freeze” changes the program just a little bit, with a heavier (but no less melodic) guitar frame and synth figures that weave in and out of the “pop-rock” design of the song; it may sound repetitive, but “memorable” and “catchy” are a recurring thing when listening to this album; “Keep Me Guessing” is the album’s standout – it makes me think of The dB’s, The Byrds and bits from Big Star’s In Space – a perfect, cascading riff that takes you in and out of the verses and a very Petty/McGuinn vocal performance.
Another ten-track gem from Nick Piunti, Temporary High is certainly one of those “must have”‘s for 2018. It’s a glorious pop moment.
Temporary High is available now.