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Power-Pop Through Tinted Windows

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Power-Pop Through Tinted Windows

Power-Pop Through Tinted Windows

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Tinted Windows is a power-pop supergroup that consists of one member each from the bands Fountains of Wayne, Smashing Pumpkins, Cheap Trick and Hanson. If that mixture of musicians sounds intriguing, rock critic Ken Tucker says the band's debut album, also called "Tinted Windows" pays off on its pop-rock promise.

(Soundbite of song, "Kind of a Girl")

Mr. TAYLOR HANSON (Singer): (Singing) Woah-woah, Woah-Woah, Woah-Woah, Woah-Woah, she's the kind of a girl you can't get enough of, Woah-woah, she's the kind of a girl you need to feel the touch of, Woah-woah, she's the kind of a girl that can really shake up your whole world, The kind of a girl you kinda never want to let go, Uh oh uh oh uh oh woah woah…

KEN TUCKER: Tinted Windows are lead singer Taylor Hanson, yes, from the brother-group Hanson, authors of "Mmm Bop"; James Iha from Smashing Pumpkins plays lead guitar. The rhythm section consists of Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger on base and Cheap Trick's Bun E. Carlos on drums. Together, they are at once playful and dead serious.

(Soundbite of song, "Dead Serious")

Mr. HANSON: (Singing) Darling when I say I would never leave you, Seems like you always say I don't believe you, I know it's hard to take it to heart, After all this time but it's time to start cause, I know you think I take it all for granted, That's how it looks but not how I planned it, I can't make up for words unsaid, But that's not what's been going on in my head, I'm serious…

TUCKER: If that sounds to you as it goes 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 are either one-or-two hit wonders or undeserving obscurity. 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.

(Soundbite of song, "Cha Cha")

Mr. HANSON: (Singing) Rolling down the road, Rolling like a stone, Feel your engine roar, Feel your body purr, My cha cha, You're my cha cha, Putting down the smack, Stepping on the gas, Riding kinda low, Everybody knows My cha cha, You're my cha cha, I just want you to feel me, I just want you to hear me, I just want you to heal me, You're my cha cha, You're my cha cha…

TUCKER: The idea for this band was apparently Adam Schlesinger's, which kind of figures, Fountains of Wayne being the most self-conscious act in this genre. And I'm using the phrase self-conscious in a complimentary way. Schlesinger and Hanson composed the first Tinted Windows tune, "Take Me Back." Taylor Hanson's voice is at once distinctive and anonymous. He could just as usually be the guy who sang The Archies' "Sugar Sugar" in 1969.

(Soundbite of song, "Take Me Back")

Mr. HANSON: (Singing) I just want it like it was before, but nothing seems to work anymore, I'm open to suggestions, gimme some direction, tell me what you're looking for. You know I, been working overtime, so I can change your mind, could you put me through. It's not enough, enough. To love someone, when the one you love, wants to cut and run. Tell me what I've got to do for you. Take me back, take me back, take me back.

TUCKER: This is the kind of music that trades in enduring clichés 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, about 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 anytime 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.

DAVIES: Ken Tucker is editor-at-large for Entertainment Weekly. You can download Podcasts of our show at our Web site

For Terry Gross, I'm Dave Davies.

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