Tinted Windows, a power-pop supergroup, consists of one member from each of four bands — lead singer Taylor Hanson hails from the brother-group Hanson; lead guitarist James Iha is from the Smashing Pumpkins; bassist Adam Schlesinger is from Fountains of Wayne; and drummer Bun E. Carlos is from Cheap Trick.
Together, they are at once playful and dead serious, and if their song "Dead Serious" off of their self-titled deput album sounds to you, as it does to me, like a lost classic, well, history is on our side. The kind of music made by Tinted Windows reaches back decades to both cult and mainstream acts such as Big Star, the Knack, Dwight Twilley and Walter Egan, who were either one- or two-hit wonders or undeserving obscurities.
But the Tinted Windows style is also a perfectly contemporary sound, as hits made by Miley Cyrus, Ashley Tisdale and Aly & AJ when they were true teenagers attests. It's just that teen pop made by non-teenagers always carries with it the whiff of irrelevance. This is a serious commercial obstacle to overcome; Hannah Montana tweens will not, I suspect, be packing Tinted Windows concerts.
The idea for this band was apparently Schlesinger's, which kind of figures, Fountains of Wayne being the most self-conscious act in this genre, and I use the phrase "self-conscious" in a complimentary way. Schlesinger and Hanson composed the first Tinted Windows tune, "Take Me Back," and Hanson's voice is at once distinctive and anonymous.
This is the kind of music that trades in enduring cliches that speak truth to heartache. Again and again, over chiming guitars and slamming drums, Tinted Windows sing about having their minds messed with by girls/women, finding romance difficult to fathom let alone sustain and insisting to the love-object resisting these melodies that, to quote a typical line, "we got something."
What Tinted Windows has is a collection of songs that would sound great blasting out of a tinny car radio any time in the past 40 years. Whether the year 2009 is interested in such timelessness at a time when timeliness is all ... well that's a whole other question.