Listening to "Apples," the opening track on Giddy for the first time, served as a soundtrack for remembering how fun pop music used to be. As I immersed myself it what sounded like a lost gem from Rivers Cuomo's heyday, waves of childhood memories revisited me, like the time my big brother got me to moon cars from our kitchen window until my dad ended up being one of them. Those were the days.
It struck me as odd when I rememembered I was listening to Pugwash, a group that's neither American or 90s (they're Irish, and released their first album in '99, which hardly counts.) Though Pugwash is a new name for most Americans, Giddy sounds instantly familiar, filled with catchy hooks reminiscent of decades past. "Nice To Be Nice" follows "Apples" with straightforward lyrics and backing vocals that stretch beyond my favorite decade to conjure up sunny memories of the Beach Boys. But all these comparisons are misleading in implying that Pugwash are simply copycats--I can't recall Brian Wilson busting out the banjo in the middle of "Surfin' USA." Giddy is the result of a band confident enough to acknowledge what has worked in the past. With so many groups trying to sound obscure and complex these days, it's refreshing to hear music that just sounds good without worrying about originality and being hip.
But it's not as if Pugwash lack depth, after Giddy grabs your attention with irresistible riffs, it slows down, adds a string section, and explores possibilities, meandering through the album's mid section. The album's talents culminate on "Black Dog," when the group add horn interludes and solos to an otherwise minimalist rock song. Giddy is rounded out with a heartfelt love song ("Finer Things In Life,") and a Brit-Pop anthem ("Two Wrongs") that delivers a great sing-along without all the fuss of a Gallagher brothers quarrel. I can't promise that Giddy will make you think about flashing your rear end at passing traffic, but it's still worth a listen.