Rich Collins: That Escalated Quickly (Independent)

Rich Collins, That Escalated Quickly, album cover

Given his day job, it’s no wonder that multi-instrumentalist Rich Collins would make a catchy, modern-sounding rock record. Collins’ main line of work, one of the “Juice Box Heroes” a.k.a. the Imagination Movers, the best of the current kids’ music bands, gives him plenty of practice writing and singing songs with stick-in-your-head melodies and anthemic choruses. On That Escalated Quickly, Collins combines these with a pop sensibility and a more complex sound. There is a mid-’90s sound here like REM or as Deadeye Dick sounded in those late 20th century days.

Obviously his themes are more adult. When he sings, “Maybe we could get along,” in “Mazes,” he’s not singing about a play date (or maybe he is…). Collins wrote all the songs, and they’re based on acoustic guitar, strummed or picked, with a rock ‘n’ roll beat, giving them a good flow that sometimes makes it hard to tell apart, but they’re all good songs, so it’s not bothersome. Sometimes the lyrics get a little banal with lyrics like the “walking down this lonely road” of “Road,” but the singing line makes up for it. Collins also played almost all the instruments, so that gives the record a consistency too, which is impressive given the variety of songs. There’s New Orleans funk tunes like “Drivin’” as well as acoustic belters such as “Lights Out” and brazen rockers of “Melody Idea No. 1”—with the ambiguous wit of the title. Collins’ first adult (as in mature, not as in Big Daddy’s on Bourbon Street) record is great record that shows a clean pop sound doesn’t have to be generic.