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The Injured Parties – Product Placement (Zenith Beast)

27 October 2019

The Injured Parties are well known among Chicago-area power-pop fans as local fixtures and mainstays of the Empty Bottle’s annual Alex Chilton Birthday Bash, even if the group has only one other full-length album to its credit (2009’s Fun with a Purpose). Songwriter/poet Larry O. Dean and bassist Jimmy De Lauriea have no shortage of credits outside of the band, and the Injured Parties’ decadal return to the studio is fully assured and rust-free … unless you’re looking for the good kind that never sleeps and occasionally reminds you of Crazy Horse. The album opens with the protracted teenage rebellion of “Got a Tattoo,” throwing your favorite guitar-pop moves by British Invasion-era Kinks and Who into a blender with Big Star, Teenage Fanclub, and the Smithereens. Despite the smart-alecky posturing, Dean faces the challenge of learning to live yourself. Even with a change in outward appearance, “you can’t really change the person within,” he sings. De Lauriea’s gliding bass leads the bittersweet way southbound along “Damen Avenue,” followed by trumpeter Ned Bowen and trombonist Mike Perry as the Albhy Galuten Free Horns. The frenetic basher “Should’ve” lists a litany of regrets both poignant and preposterous. In addition to the practical and impossible recriminations hurled at Dean’s younger self, the song also features a red-hot snare drum break by Mike Ebersohl. Ebersohl unleashes his inner Keith Moon and Ric Menck with loose-limbed fills during “Bangkok” too, while the band aims for pop stardom in Indochina (even if the affectionately delivered lyrics are somewhat geographically dubious). Rollicking roots-rocker “That’s Why God Made Credit Cards” reflects the reckless and shambolic wit of the Replacements. The sly critique of “Frosted Flakes” bemoans a culture debased from “Shakespeare in the Park to Disney on the lawn.” The self-deprecating observations of repurposed Post Office psych-pop stomper “The Advantage Was Mine” remind listeners anew of Dean’s spiritual connection to Ray Davies, even as his tremulous tenor echoes Neil Young. The torch of great Midwestern power-pop passed from bands like Shoes and Cheap Trick is carried another mile by the Injured Parties on songs including the acerbic “Murder the Truth” and idealistic call to action “Obama’s Girl.”