Edmund's Crown is back. The self-styled purveyors of "southern power pop", who made a splash in the genre with 2003's Collected, have just released Regrets of a Company Man. With its conference room table cover and tracks like "Company Man" and "Stuck in an Office", you might be forgiven if you thought Regrets was going to be an album of Dilbert-rock. But it's more than that, much more.
In fact, leadoff track "Keep Your Feet on the Ground" is one of the brighter openings to an album I've heard this year, and sounds more like a romp through the park on a sunny day than a trip to the water cooler, despite the admonition of the title, and "Damsel" follows with a blast of Southern-fried Kinks. The aforementioned "Company Man" is next, a gorgeous (dare I say power?) ballad about a rocker who trades in the leather and jeans for a shirt and tie, undoubtedly a fate of many we review on this site who are brilliant artists but unappreciated by the marketplace. And while it may be the same narrator in the next track, "Stuck in an Office", the fast-paced power pop of the tune is his way of saying his spirit will not be crushed. Meanwhile, "Nashville Star" is the antithesis of "Company Man": the singer here quits his day job to take his guitar to Nashville in hope of stardom.
Other standouts include "Not That It Matters", a near-perfect slice of jangle pop that details a relationship in its post-breakup phase; "Keith Richards" in which the singer presents his case that "Keith Richards is still God" to an Eric Clapton partisan; and "Eight Years Ago", another outstanding mid-tempo jangler.
18 tracks in all including five bonus demos of additional songs that showcase the band's rocking side, for the bargain price of $10. If you'd prefer to stream the four songs available for download, they're at their myspace page. Rocking but not overbearing, catchy but not saccharine, and literate but not pretentious, Regrets of a Company Man is a high quality power pop disc that will undoubtedly contend for my year-end top 20.
Greg Pope: Vocals, Guitars
David Sprouse: Drums, Percussion
John Putnam: Bass, Back up vocals