Chicago-based post-rock act Aluminum Group, formed by brothers Frank and John
Navin, debuted with a slab of easy-listening muzak and Sixties bubblegum,
Wonderboy Plus (1995 - Minty Fresh, 1999), but derailed that genre
with electronic and acoustic arrangements on Plano (Minty Fresh, 1998),
occasionally bordering on Pink Floyd-ian languor (Storytime) and
sometimes achieving real melodrama (Sad Gay Life).
The band became even more intellectual on
Pedals (Minty Fresh, 1999), produced by Jim O'Rourke and virtually a
spoof of Burt Bacharach's sophisticated orchestral pop.
Their incursion into kitsch music continued with Pelo (Hefty, 2000),
which also resurrected the band's flirt with electronic arrangements (and
dance beats). This album is simultaneously the least inspired of their career
and the one with the most accomplished songs
(Pussycat, Tom Of Finland). Stalwarts of simplicity in the
age of post-rock complexity, the Aluminum Group harks back to the pre-rock
years and attempt to recreate the feeling of safety, security and
mindless happiness of those years.
And Happyness (Wishing Tree, 2002) was the appropriate (mispelled) title
of their next album. Even more generic, laid-back and unpretentious, the
sound of Kisses and Pop is, basically, not a sound.
For better and for worse,
More Happyness (Wishing Tree, 2002) is a senseless repetition of
the senseless pop ballads of the previous albums.
Featuring many of Chicago's post-rock intellectuals (John McEntire,
John Herndon, Doug McCombs, Rebecca Gates, Rob Mazurek, Jeff Parker),
it embellishes its crooning litanies with synths and horns that basically
photocopy the old easy-listening orchestras.
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