Review Summary: A positive, (not) guilty pleasure
It's hard to know what to think of an album like Positive Force
. The title is quite literal. It would be easy to be cynical and dismiss it as a too-ecstatic guilty pleasure. That is, however, exactly why it is good.
Right away, Romona Reborn
whips the listener into a nostalgic, gooey mess. Delicate Steve begins as he means to continue: the album is full of hooky, short and repeated slide guitar melodies accompanied by rich chords, and vocal oohs and aahs. Although this motif is rarely changed, it is not fatigued. The standout in this regard is Afria Talks to You
. The melody is near-perfect and deceptively simple. It is because of this simplicity that Afria
is so lucid: it is immediately accesible and therefore open to any and all interpretations. It best explains, in 3 minutes and without any lyrics, the appeal of this genre of music, of this type of feeling.
Although the album is almost entirely instrumental, the tracks suggest their own meaning. The nostalgia of Ramona
is countered by the in-the-moment indulgence of Wally Wilder
. Two Lovers
provides the come-down, and Big Time Receiver
brings things back up for a spaced out, poppy jam. Finally, the title track moves us back to the feeling of the first. The sequencing of the songs, then, is crucial to this kind of success.
There are weaker points, of course: Touch
feels like filler, as does Redeemer
. They're certainly not as strong as the tracks that surround them. However, when this album is strong it is so, so very strong; mawkishly comforting and encouraging. A real force.