It’s about time that you’ve heard about Turnover. The Virginia Beach quartet makes some truly great power pop. Their big guitars and infectious melodies grab hold of you and don’t let go. Just have a listen to their new record, Magnolia – an exciting new record that shows the promise of better things to come.
Power pop records need to have terrific opening cuts to convince you that the songs that the songs that follow will energize you and bring you joy.
Opener “Shiver” accomplishes this task. Lead vocalist Austin Getz sings a terrifically catchy melody that works in concert with Kyle Kojan’s equally terrific guitar leads. It also rocks hard. “Shiver” is the kind of cut that announces the presence of a band that just breathes melody.
Austin and Kyle function as a dynamic duo throughout Magnolia. A Batman and Robin of power pop, their vocals and guitars work in a harmony that would make the Caped Crusaders jealous. Check out Kyle’s arpeggios and guitar solo on second track “Most of the Time.” They offer a perfect accompaniment to the vocal melody.
Turnover also aren’t afraid to wear their hears on their sleeves. Think back to power pop’s invention and the way in which Alex Chilton and Todd Rundgren (in one of his incarnations) weren’t afraid to bare their souls.
“Wither” is a powerful song with a snazzy structure that explores death with earnestness and grace. And “Seedwong” – which shows off some heavy guitar playing and low-register vocals – deals with suicide. These two songs are earnest, compassionate, and, yes, dark, but they both have moments of hope.
But Magnolia dips when the band gets away from the power pop that it does best. Just listen to “Pray for Me,” which sounds plodding and contrived in relation to the songs that come before. In the context of the excellent songs that come before, it almost sounds like bad metal.
“Hollow” is also problematic, simply because the vocal line isn’t as catchy and melodic as most of what’s here. And Kyle’s heavy guitars disappoint this time, revealing that Turnover’s strengths exist when they apply a lighter touch to their music.
Another problem is that Magnolia wilts in its second half. Once the band has demonstrated its strengths on the album’s first few tracks, they sound kind of same-y. With power pop, variety is especially hard to gain, mainly because the instrumentation and reliance on catchy vocal melodies and guitar parts usually remain the same.
When you think about Magnolia in relation to proto-power pop albums like The Beatles’ A Hard Days Night and The Beach Boys’ All Summer Long to albums by Badfinger, Big Star, Cheap Trick, The Cars, The Exploding Hearts, The New Pornographers, Matthew Sweet, and Teenage Fanclub, you’ll see that the record doesn’t demonstrate the inventiveness of the genre’s classic musicians.
But it’s unfair to hold up Turnover – newcomers as they are – to these high standards.
Despite the welcome sonic break that is the acoustic “Flicker and Fade,” the second half of Magnolia indicates that Turnover is just beginning to master their primary genre. Magnolia shows the promise of an exciting future – and no better comment can be made about a band just finding its sea legs.