The Push Stars

Opening Time

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Review

After their 1999 major-label debut, when the Push Stars seemed on the brink of success due to the hit single "Drunk Is Better Than Dead," the band took a 180-degree turn and signed to the fledgling indie Co-Op Pop, effectively sacrificing their shot at the big time. Seemingly content with being Boston's favorite bar band, they released their third full-length, Opening Time, in early 2001 and -- not surprisingly -- it didn't sell nearly as well as its predecessor. But in this case, sales have nothing to do with quality, as Opening Time is easily the Push Stars' most consistent and fully realized record. If their prior releases often exhibited a visible struggle between quirky, catchy pop songs (à la Barenaked Ladies) and introspective balladry (Counting Crows), then Opening Time is where they found their true sound somewhere in between the two extremes. That means that the goofy pop of "Frathouse Joe" and "Millionaire" is more direct than anything they've ever done, and it also means that ballads like "All I Wanted" and "Meltaway" have the hooks that they lacked previously. The album's first single, the dark, moody rocker "Waiting, Watching, Wishing" is an affecting departure from the band's sound, even if it did sink like a stone on commercial radio. And even with all these changes in the Push Stars' sound, it's all a great move forward and not an abandonment, as they can still bang out introspective acoustic numbers as on their earlier releases. Opening Time is probably the album the Push Stars always wanted to make, and when they freed themselves of major labels and concerns about sales, they were able to achieve this goal marvelously. ~ Jason Damas, Rovi