November 08, 2021

Fastball - All The Pain Money Can Buy (1998) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label Number: 162 130-2
☠: Selected by Lass
© 1993 Giant Records
Fastball's charms came into sharp focus on All the Pain Money Can Buy. Stripping away the grungy guitars that defined 1996's Make Your Mama ProudFastball decide to indulge in a power pop fantasia, snatching elements from the British Invasion, '70s AM pop, psychedelia, new wave, power pop, and adult alternative rock. Co-producer Julian Raymond certainly assisted in this shift, but it's also evident that songwriters Tony Scalzo and Miles Zuniga -- the pair never wrote together, choosing to alternate songs instead -- decided to stretch their muscles, writing a few songs in distinct styles ("G.O.D. [Good Old Days]" is a horn-driven piece of bubblegum that evokes "Build Me Up Buttercup"), but also choosing to blend their influences. Notable among the latter is Scalzo's "The Way," a simmering, cinematic pop gem that climbed its way to number five on Billboard's Hot 100. Its success pigeonholed Fastball as a one-hit wonder, a designation that was neither true -- Scalzo's easy-rolling "Out of My Head" went to number 20 on its way to being an adult album alternative staple -- nor fair. Perhaps All the Pain Money Can Buy carries some trappings of the post-grunge salad days of the early '90s -- certainly, its very title suggests it's a collection of angst -- but at its core, it's a colorful, catchy collection of tunes rooted in classic pop. Zuniga's "Fire Escape" is driven by hooks that chime like the Byrds, while his "Sooner or Later" punches like prime Elvis Costello, sounds that find a contemporary balance with his lite-soul duet with Poe ("Which Way to the Top?") and Scalzo's hits. Removed from the post-grunge era, what's striking about All the Pain Money Can Buy is that fine, sturdy craft, which is evident both in the songs and production. No longer seeming like part of the Zeitgeist, the album appears to be part of a long, proud tradition of tuneful guitar pop.

tags: fastball, all the pain money can buy, 1998, flac,


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