Marking the release of his first full-length listed as Paul Melançon since the early 2000’s, The Get-Gos Action Hour! Is a slippery creature. Its exterior promises a sweet confection, wrapped in graphics reminiscent of late ‘60s Hanna-Barbera cartoon shows, the ones where everyone was a detective AND a pop star too. The wording on the package promises a concept “power-popera!,” and when taken at surface level, I suppose one can infer that. But Melançon has never really been surface-level.
Undoubtedly, there are the trappings of power pop mixed within the record, recorded with his band The New Insecurities, but Melançon is first and foremost a singer-songwriter, and like the best of them, he knows how to subvert the formulas.
He needed to. I won’t say much more on this, as the man himself has been very candid about his life and struggles, and I encourage you to seek him out on his website. I will say, however, that had he approached the subject matter present here without that spoonful of sugar Mary Poppins promised would help the medicine go down, you might not take it. Way too many singer-songwriters, with acoustic guitar in hand, heart on sleeve, and subtlety out the window, have taken dour earnestness to a level of near parody, complete with a brooding, black and white portrait on the cover.
Thankfully – Mercifully, even! Exit, stage right! – Melançon is smarter than that, and the shiny glitz on the outside makes the gut-punch on the inside more potent because you don’t expect it. From poppy sheen to real, rock crunch; to a proggy, psyche-ish, nearly ten-minute track meant to illustrate an Ayahuasca ceremony, we’re far from the superficial land of boy-meets-girl that is emblematic of pop.
To paraphrase Han Solo, it works. All of it. Not that Melançon’s supporters had any doubt about it, but speaking for myself, I believe that very same supporter base is criminally small in relation to what the man’s been putting out. It is enough to make you bang your head, and not in the fun way. How many pundits and critics have needled about “where’s the good new music?” I’ve recommended his previous Camera Obscura more times than I can count, and that one also had the quality of wrapping emotional songcraft up in crowd-pleasing, reflective wrapping paper. I said, the good new music is over here! You’d think that through my insistence alone, he’d have received a third more fans, but alas.
The Get Gos is coming from a deeper place, and way down there is the story of a person struggling to find some light they can call their own. Given our past few weeks here in the United States, and offered little comfort coming our way – in, what, the next two weeks? Two months? Maybe Christmas? – do yourself a favor while you are doing the responsible social distancing and get close to The Get Gos Action Hour! I think you will appreciate it.
Welcome back, Paul. Sorry things landed here, but I’m glad it did.