Heal Thyself Pt. 1: Instinct
Steven Page’s fourth solo release is a gosh darn party record, wrapped in a blanket of crisp production and coated in the ex-Barenaked Ladies singer’s distinctive coo. The opening one-two punch of “There’s a Melody I” and “The Work at Hand” is reminiscent of the first few tracks on Eels’ Electro-Shock Blues – particularly the mechanical pop machine working away on the opening bit of “Work,” which is very “Cancer For The Cure” in a good way, but that comparison is abandoned after exploding into the happiest lil’ ol’ thing – more LCD Soundsystem than anything Eels ever imagined. “I Can See My House From Here” has that innocence about it that we grew up loving from Page, while “Manchild” mixes things up, wearing its George Harrison-y guitars and vocal inflections well. The latter track is fleshed out by gorgeous strings and back-up harmonies that any listener could easily get lost in. Lead single “Surprise Surprise” keeps that retro for today train going, with enough “oohs” and “aahs” to make a Wes Anderson character blush, and it’s a great representation of the full length as a whole.
Co-produced by Page and his ol’ pal Craig Northey (whose band Odds features prominently on the tracks that weren’t recorded by Page’s touring band, The Original Six), it’s a lush and glorious disc, filled with an honest yet positive lyrical outlook. Closer “No Song Left to Save Me” brings the healing process to its Elvis Costello-y conclusion, helped there by the AM radio lovin’ “Linda Ronstadt in the ’70s” and “There’s a Melody II” – proving that the power of positive pop can help you heal any wound.