Thursday, January 24, 2008

THE SINCEROS - More of the Best Power Pop You've (Probably) Never Heard

There are many artists in my music collection who have made a healthy number of albums, yet somehow I rarely find myself listening to them, or when I do, have to dig to find songs I actually want to hear. And then there are bands in my collection like The Sinceros.

The Sinceros were a London-based band active from 1978 to 1981 that straddled the line between quirky new wave and more traditional, straightforward power pop. Their brief existence spawned only two LPs - 1979's The Sound of Sunbathing and 1981's Pet Rock - but somehow I never get sick of listening to them, and constantly find myself coming back to both albums - especially Pet Rock.

The now-obscure Sinceros consisted of Mark Kjeldsen, Ron François, Don Snow and Bobby Irwin. Kjeldsen was the band's primary singer and songwriter, but François also contributed a considerable amount of material and vocals.

Shortly after forming, The Sinceros scored a record deal with Epic, and quickly released The Sound of Sunbathing. The lead single, Take Me to Your Leader, is the band's most recognized tune, a minor hit that comes close to being a novelty track. Some 7" copies of the sci-fi themed song were even pressed on martian-green vinyl. While I like the song, I actually consider it to be one of The Sinceros' weakest and most dated. For me, The Sound of Sunbathing yielded even greater treasures in the likes of So They Know, second single Worlds Apart and album closer Good Luck (To You), all of which are energetic numbers with memorable melodies. In fact, the entire first Sinceros album is pretty great.

As much as I love The Sound of Sunbathing, I really felt like I struck gold when I found Pet Rock. The album evolved from the failed, unreleased sophomore record, 2nd Debut. The Sinceros took many of the songs they recorded for 2nd Debut, gave them a face lift, threw in a few others and released Pet Rock in 1981. Pet Rock has become one of my favorite albums of all time, and one that I consider absolutely essential for any fan of power pop or new wave.

The album kicks off with a trio of insanely catchy songs. First single and album opener Disappearing is sparkling, pretty, full-on pop with a lead vocal by Snow that should have been a number one hit. The bittersweet Memory Lane continues down a similar path, while Socially goes back to the energy and fun of their debut - only the hook is much stronger. Another highlight is the jangly side one closer Barcelona, which is probably the most lyrically interesting track. Falling in and out of Love is a short and sweet 60s-pop-inspired song later covered by Tracey Ullman. Girl I Realize is Motown on a sugar high. The pristine Midsong is the perfect end to the album - reflective and gorgeous.

Pet Rock is power pop ear candy of the highest quality from start to finish. Criminally, both it and The Sound of Sunbathing failed to take off as they should have, and The Sinceros called it a day in 1981. Kjeldsen went on to perform with the Danny Adler Band, and reportedly became a taxi driver in Holland before sadly dying of AIDS in the 1990s. Snow went on to work with Squeeze and a variety of other artists, and now goes by John Savannah (link). Life after The Sinceros for François consisted of work with bands such as The Teardrop Explodes and Eurogliders, while Irwin has played with Nick Lowe.

It is also criminal that neither of the Sinceros albums has been released on CD. Do yourself a favor and track down vinyl copies. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite Sinceros songs ripped from my very own LPs.

- The Sinceros - Disappearing (from Pet Rock)
- The Sinceros - Socially (from Pet Rock)
- The Sinceros - Worlds Apart (from The Sound of Sunbathing)

The dB's, Shoes, Pezband, 20/20, Squeeze, The Dugites, Pearl Harbor & the Explosions, Phil Seymour, The Rubinoos, The Kings

- The Sinceros on Wikipedia
- Informative Sinceros discography site
- The Sinceros on
- Take Me to Your Leader video on Youtube
- The Sinceros on AllMusic Guide


the Duke said...

Outstanding post, and I couldn't agree more about "Pet Rock" This and Elton Motello's "Pop Art" are two forgotten gems worthy of reissue.
Thank you for this informative and sparkling post about a vibrant band which deserves to be remembered.

Franko6677 said...

Thanks, Duke! I will have to seek out the "Pop Art" album. Never heard of it, but if it's as good as "Pet Rock" I must find out more.

Adam said...

"Pet Rock" is my favorite album that (almost) no one's ever heard of. Thanks for spreading the word (and the music).