Some albums grab you immediately and refuse to let go. You wake up, and one of its songs is in your mind. You’re at work, and another one is seemingly in your ear. You’re making dinner, and yet another one is bouncing around relentlessly in your head. And so on, and so on and so on.
The self-titled debut by The Legal Matters is one of those records. The Legal Matters is a “rockin’ pop project containing equal parts Chris Richards, Andy Reed and Keith Klingensmith,” each of whom has been discussed many times previously on these pages. Given that life’s too short to write about bad music (or even mediocre music, for that matter), it is hardly surprising that I would at least “like” this “rocking’ pop” effort.
That, however, is quite an understatement. The whole of this combination is greater than the sum of its three “equal parts.” The Legal Matters is the best long-player I have heard so far this year. It is hard to imagine anything coming out in the second-half of the year to eclipse it.
The opening track, “Rite Of Spring,” sets the tone for the album in its first few seconds. A simple keyboard riff over strummed guitars bathes the revelry about the perfect girl in undeniable warmth and sweetness. You can feel the sunshine on your skin by the time the million-dollar three-part harmonies kick in at about the one-minute mark:
Gorgeous harmonies are all over this record. Richards, Reed and Klingensmith are superb singers on their own. This record makes the case, though, that they should be singing together until they can sing no more. Check out, in particular, how the harmonies sung during the chorus add a sense of hope to the longing that otherwise characterizes “Have You Changed Your Mind?”
Indeed, several songs on the album adroitly play the bitter against the sweet. “So Long Sunny Days” hides its own sense of longing and melancholy in three-minutes of absolutely perfect melodies. “Mary Anne” is probably the prettiest song about a life full of regret that you will hear this year.
None of this means that the Legal Matters can’t “rock” when they want. But they do it without trying to beat you over the head. “The Legend Of Walter Wright” — a man who was “remarkably clean and mildly polite” — may be the best song in the collection. It will have you reflexively increasing the volume on the car stereo whenever it comes on as you drive around town:
Delivering “only” ten songs over thirty-five minutes, The Legal Matters recalls a time when the space limitations of vinyl meant that truly great artists only waxed their best ideas. There is no fluff here, and not a moment of time is wasted from start to finish.
So, run, don’t walk, to wherever you go to buy the finest music, and get The Legal Matters as soon as you can.