Thu, Apr 23, 2009 (midnight)
At first glance, the lineup of supergroup Tinted Windows seems pretty incongruous: singer Taylor Hanson (Hanson), bassist Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), guitarist James Iha (ex-Smashing Pumpkins) and drummer Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick) don’t appear to have a whole lot in common, but as the self-titled debut from their new project proves, their talents actually come together quite nicely.
All four members bring their best power-pop instincts to this brief, fun album: Hanson’s penchant for lush harmonies and big hooks in the band he shares with his two brothers combines with Schlesinger’s flair for crunchy guitar pop and Carlos’ rock-solid beat-keeping. Iha, heretofore known primarily as a hard rocker, proves himself as adept at appealing pop songs as his bandmates, writing the dreamy “Back With You” and the handclap-heavy “Cha Cha,” two of the album’s strongest tracks.
The majority of the songwriting contributions come from Schlesinger, who drops the intricate wordplay he’s known for in Fountains of Wayne and instead focuses on penning straightforward songs about girls and the words “whoa” and “ooh.” It’s no surprise that he’s damn good at this, and his seven originals meld perfectly with Hanson’s smooth, still teen-friendly voice. It’s perhaps a little disappointing that Hanson himself only has two writing credits here, since he and his brothers have developed into some of the best pop songwriters around, but that just emphasizes how deep a bench Tinted Windows has.
No ground is broken here, certainly, and the similar-sounding songs are purely confectionary. But it’s such a delicious candy that you can’t help immediately wanting more.