The Sharp Things is a “a New York City-based chamber pop collective” led by Perry Serpa. By day, Serpa is a principal in Good Cop Public Relations, whose past clients include Sonic Youth and Evan Dando of Lemonheads fame. Green Is Good is the Serpa and company’s fourth long-player, and its one of the more intriguing releases in quite some time.
“Chamber pop” is an apt description for Green Is Good, which seamlessly stitches together dozens of different influences into a cohesive quilt of modern pop. No two songs on the collection sound quite the same. That’s a very good thing in hands as sure as Serpa’s which are equally comfortable with late-60s baroque pop, soul, modern rock, disco and country.
The opening track, “Blame The Bankers,” is catchy, horn-drenched soulful agitprop. “The Piper” is a quiet, contemplative tune that could have been done by The Kinks around 1970. “Here Comes The Maestro” would have gotten the entire house onto the dance floor in the mid-80s.
All of this is just warm-up for the transcendent sunshine pop of “Flowers For My Girl,” the best song in the collection. “She keeps on talking, but I’m not at home/My mind is reaching back to afternoon on Sunday/Kissing, laughing, running ’round your bed/So sorry, haven’t listened to a word you said,” it begins before building to a veritable street parade of pure joy by the time the chorus hits:
“Goodbye To Golders Green” takes the opposite tack over a decidedly minimal, minor chord arrangement.
“I Know You’re Gonna Break My Heart” has the kind of sophisticated adult country pop feel of a Jimmy Webb tune sung by Glen Campbell in the late-60s, with Serpa and guest singer, Laura Cantrell, supplying perfectly weary, soulful vocals:
“Dogs of Bushwick” is an autobiographical look at the frustrations of a songwriter felt over many years. “Its a dangerous endeavor/And its much like a drug/Cos you think that your’re winning/But, its never enough/Till the money’s gone/Still the urge is twice as strong,” Serpa sings against a slow swirl anchored by a piano and strings:
Green Is Good is indeed very, very good. There is not a bum track out of ten. It is currently available as a “name your price” download on Bandcamp. That means you could have it for “free.” But, put a couple of dollars in the tip jar nevertheless. It is well worth it.