Wednesday, July 18, 2012

CD Review: Big Hello - Orange Album

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer in 2001. Brad Elvis and Chloe F. Orwell now perform with the band The Handcuffs.

Big Hello, the Chicago-based quartet that bills itself as 50% Girl/50% Boy, continues to marry mid-1960s pop with 1980s new wave on its Orange Album. Drummer Brad Elvis seems to have an endless supply of melodies, while singer Chloe F. Orwell and guitarist Johnny Million pitch in a few catchy tunes as well. As with the band’s 1998 Apple Album, much of the material focuses on relationships.

“Boys Can Be Dumb” exudes the pajama party frivolity that made 80s girl bands so much fun, while “Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind” reaches back to The Beatles with a well-crafted mid-tempo arrangement. “Heather” and “In My Mind” are notable for the way Orwell combines with new bassist-back-up vocalist Melanie X for some Veruca Salt style harmonies. “In My Mind” is one of Brad Elvis’s more elaborate compositions, and he even manages to work in a reference to Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks.

“If You Don’t Stop Your Crying” turns a familiar parental threat into a high-speed punk song, while “Video Star pokes fun at the music biz. “Action Now” veers more toward hard rock by borrowing the riff from The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” Here’s hoping Big Hello continues to add to its fruit basket. 

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