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The Upside of Down

The Tories

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Four years separated the Tories' debut Wonderful Life and its follow-up, Upside of Down. During that time, a lot happened to the Tories: Drummer Brent Klopp departed and, most notably, their "Time for You" was chosen as the theme song to the Christina Applegate sitcom Jessie. The show was troubled, and faced a total of three major overhauls before ultimately being cancelled after only one season. However, for that time, it had potentially the best TV theme on the air. While the Tories' debut album was a sparkling example of Jellyfish-inspired power pop, it did lack an instantly memorable single. All of it was well-crafted and expertly executed and produced, but none of it seemed primed for radio. "Time for You" was the Tories' strike of pop brilliance. At two-and-a-half minutes, it blasts through a mountain of hooks and countless influences from the Monkees to the Rembrandts. The tragedy, however, was that the television show was cancelled long before Upside of Down appeared in stores in early 2001, so by then the buzz wore off and few people remembered Jessie — never mind its theme song — anymore. While Upside of Down does include the excellent "Time for You," there is a lot more to the Tories' sophomore effort than that single. Since so much time had passed since 1997's Wonderful Life, the style of the band had evolved considerably as well. The Jellyfish influence is far less pronounced this time around, and instead the band leans more toward mainstream pop/rock much of the time. That may mean that songs like "Come Unglued" and "Greatest Foe" rock considerably harder (and also have weaker hooks) than material on the first album, but it doesn't mean that the album suffers. If Wonderful Life was a standout album, Upside of Down is less an album than a collection of excellent singles with some merely OK tracks in between. So the strengths here are in the songs themselves, like the slick pop of the opener "Would You Notice," the dark power ballad "Point of View," the excellent summer anthem "Superconductor," or the circus-like "The End" (obviously the most obvious Jellyfish footnote here). Wonderful Life may be a better album, but Upside of Down contains some killer singles — singles better than any individual songs on the debut — and that will certainly make up for any minor flaws in this excellent release.

The Upside of Down, The Tories
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