Michael Penn
Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947 Spin Art/Mime-o-graph http://www.tinymixtapes.comsites/default/files/arton5326_0.jpg

[Spin Art/Mime-o-graph; 2005]

Rating: 3.5/5 3.5 / 5 (0)

Styles: pop rock, singer/songwriter,
Others: Aimee Mann, Neil Finn, Todd Rundgren


http://media.tinymixtapes.com/


Michael Penn is more than just another pretty face. He is much more than just a fragile voice. Much more than the older brother of Sean and Chris. More than Aimee Mann's husband. Whether it's crafting big, radio-friendly hits such as "No Myth" or paying homage to his childhood idols The Beatles, Elvis Costello and the Beach Boys, Michael Penn has been able to produce album after album of inspired pop rock. He's been able to take a sound familiar to most casual music lovers and create the next genesis of pop.

Penn delivers the goods once more with Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947. The album focuses on post-World War II Los Angeles, but the music and message isn't as dated as the themes would imply. Five years of rust and label struggles show no signs of slowing down Penn's delicate wordplay and stream of consciousness. We're treated to Penn's vision of history meeting music with the rollicking opener "Walter Reed." While there are no mentions of yellow fever and the army surgeon's extensive work that inspired the song's title, the song does boast everything perfect about Michael Penn's song crafting: perfect lyrical timing, an instrumental kitchen sink mentality, and catchy guitar hooks. "Walter Reed," provides a perfect blend of Penn's influences as well as his forward thinking. This is great tasting pop that the most mindless and mindful of music fans can devour.

But Penn doesn't stick to pop gems throughout the album's showcase. He shows no fear in exploring minimal instrumentation ("The Transistor"), Dust Bowl inspired sing-alongs ("Mary Lynn"), or the softer side of life through music ("O.K"). Perhaps the album's shining moment, "The Television Set Waltz," is time trapped in a bottle, featuring the sound popular with big band-dominated radios during much of the early 1950s; the one-minute glimpse into the carnival of black and white hammers home the theme of life during an innovative, yet isolated period. The song treads many of the same musical themes many unappreciated artists have explored more in-depth (The Robot Ate Me's On Vacation) in the world of indie pop. Penn's able to let the nostalgia do the talking without interjecting modern politics and messages into the darkly uplifting track.

Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947 may not tow the innovative pop line, but it's an intriguing look at a time that boasted a bright future, but hosted a dark underbelly. The album may reflect the troubles of McCarthyism, the slow decline of American values, and the technology boom, but it still packs a modern-day punch. History repeats itself more than we'll ever know, and Michael Penn seems to not only understand the principle, but grows from it. Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947 won't win any awards for innovation and probably won't yield any radio hits, but that's perfect. This album isn't about creating the perfect pop song, but about creating a story that bridges generations.

1. Walter Reed
2. Denton Road
3. Room 712, The Apache
4. Pretending
5. The Transistor
6. Mary Lynn
7. 18 September
8. The Television Set Waltz
9. You Know How
10. A Bad Sign
11. O.K

12. On Automatic
13. (P.S). Millionaire

1. Walter Reed
2. Denton Road
3. Room 712, The Apache
4. Pretending
5. The Transistor
6. Mary Lynn
7. 18 September
8. The Television Set Waltz
9. You Know How
10. A Bad Sign
11. O.K

12. On Automatic
13. (P.S). Millionaire