Sunday, March 01, 2020

The Suitesixteen - Mine Would Be The Sun

Unrequited adolescent love, often dismissed as a "lightweight" topic, is actually a subject that has inspired epic works of art for centuries. Rob Nesbitt has created his own epic work of art based on his personal experience with this very matter. As a member of Victoria, B.C. foursome BUM, Nesbitt was an essential contributor to one of the greatest power pop/punk albums ever made, 1993's Wanna Smash Sensation. Most of the songs Nesbitt wrote for BUM were about the same girl: a teenage love of his who could never reciprocate his feelings. Even after his departure from the band, even after he found himself happily married, he continued to write songs about the same girl. His obsession over this singular disappointment in his life eventually became a creation onto itself. Using the band name The Suitesixteen, Nesbitt crafted an album with the feel of an epic novel. He spent 16 years writing the album and five years recording it - working meticulously to ensure that every word and every note were executed exactly as he wanted it. Every bit as much attention was paid to the details of the packaging - a triple gatefold sleeve containing two LPs and a 52-page book that connects the songs and the stories. And after all of that work, Mine Would Be The Sun now exists. This surely would have been a worthy undertaking just for the fact that it healed a wound that Nesbitt had been trying to free himself from for decades. But the bonus is that this album is absolutely brilliant.

It would have been somewhat of a letdown if Rob from BUM had made a record that didn't remind you at least a little of BUM. Fortunately, there is much about Mine Would Be The Sun that brings to mind Nesbitt's contributions to BUM. Nesbitt is still working in that area where pop-punk and power pop overlap, although with this album it's far more of the latter than the former. Palpable influences range from Cheap Trick/Big Star roots power pop to the '90s strains of Superdrag and The Posies to the defining punk-pop of the Descendents and Parasites. This is a mature work of power pop punk which reflects back on adolescent despair with adult wisdom. In a wonderful interview with Grant Lawrence of the Vancouver Courier, Nesbitt articulates how this concept record about his own teenage heartbreak takes on a deeper, more universal meaning: "As the project grew in scale, I realized I was talking about the nature of love itself. People tend to dismiss adolescent emotional experiences, or at least diminish them. I feel the opposite. During that time of life one is on the precipice of everything for the first time. First time experiences are almost always the most impactful, the most formative."

I've actually had a number of people approach me about Mine Would Be The Sun and make sure it was on my radar, which I appreciate since this is so totally my kind of thing on many levels. Nobody appreciates the "song about a girl" motif more than I, and this case 16 songs all about the same girl really works. It's not the bummer of an album you might expect, and ultimately these songs are just as much about Rob Nesbitt as they are about the girl who once spurned him. This is his story, but it's a relatable one. Few things unite us as humans quite like our shared heartbreaks, romantic letdowns, and obsessive quest to fully figure out what went wrong. And musically, Mine Would Be The Sun is a splendid example of what rocking melodic guitar pop ought to be. It's got punky moments and aching ballads alike. The songs offer just as much in melody as they do in lyrical substance. And with Rob Nesbitt having been very much missed on the power pop punk scene for a quarter of a century, it feels great to have him return in such an epic manner. He invested 16 years and literally his life savings into getting this album made, and what results is nothing short of a power pop masterpiece. The venerable Eric Anderson says it's the best album he's heard in 25 years, and who am I to argue?!


1 comment:

johnnybgoode said...

Mr Lord, I agree, this is definitely a top 10 album for 2020, and one of the best loud guitar power pop albums ever made. You can tell that a lot of time, thought and effort went into the album. the amazing thing is that with all the perfection, the album totally rocks, and the energy shines above.