Published Aug 05, 2015There is a parallel earth somewhere out there where clever, twangy power pop is a genre that produces hit after hit, not just the occasional novelty single, where Kirsty MacColl is the subject of numerous biopics, and the Texan Nourallah brothers were teen idols.
We do not live in that universe, so instead, Salim Nourallah is a respected, prolific songwriter and producer (His credits include the last few Old 97s albums), but not anything resembling a rock star. His new album Skeleton Closet will seem to have come out of nowhere for many listeners, but it's not the work of some new kid.
Skeleton Closet is an album of songs that are thoughtful, catchy, carefully hopeful. It's punk rock for grownups, which sounds square until you think of it as songs of experience. A track like "This Town" illustrates the relief of a blank slate and a new place, knowing full well what a gift that can be. And in the gentle dirge "Two Weeks," the heartbreak is that of bereavement, rather than a breakup.
The dramas of young adulthood can seem impossibly tragic in the moment, but the different tragedy when you're grown up is that you know the world won't end when a relationship does; things will be horrible but you'll have to go on anyway. Cautious optimism in the face of painful experience can be punk rock as all hell — at least the way Nourallah does it. (Independent)