Amidst the explosion of musical styles in recent kids music -- indie rock, country, rap, what have you -- the pure children’s pop tune or album has almost been forgotten. I don’t know whether it’ll ever make a complete comeback (Billy Joel isn't exactly burning up the adult pop charts nowadays, either), but Seth Decker and the Missing Piece won’t be to blame if it doesn’t.
Seth Decker and his wife Leah Decker founded the Red Door Playhouse in the Atlanta area in 2003, providing theater, music, and visual arts programs for kids and families. On their second album, 2006’s Intergalactic Tour, the band runs through a bunch of finely-honed original kids’ pop that sound like they’re the basis of an evening's show at the playhouse. Over the course of 42 minutes, the band covers every bit of hyphenated pop known to man -- the pop-country of “Call Me Anytime,” the swing-pop of “Bugville Boogie,” or the pop-rock of “Open the Door.”
A couple of songs stand out above the rest. “Edna the Elephant” is a simple piano-based pop tune reminiscent a little bit of Justin Roberts. It’s about a light-on-her-feet elephantine ballerina and is a minor classic of kids’ song storytelling. Less conventional perhaps is the dreamy “Trampoline,” which is one of the slowest tracks on the disk, its gentle tempo a nice match for the song’s subject. The songs do sound a bit like they’d fit into your local adult alternative radio stations amidst the Sheryl Crow and Maroon 5 tracks, though it’s doubtful those artists will be recording silly songs like the ‘70s-pop-with Mexican-accents “Taco Love” anytime soon. (Though at this point in their careers, I’d probably rather listen to “Taco Love.”)
I do feel like I’m missing something in listening to the album, and it’s probably the live show that sounds like it goes (or went) along with the songs. It’s structured as a tour through the galaxies, but the plot thread is weak on record. It’s an indication of the strengths of the hooks here and their execution that I’d be interested in hearing or seeing the, well, missing pieces.
I think this is right in the wheelhouse of 4 to 8-year-old kids. You can hear selections from the album here.
In the end Intergalactic Tour is simply an album of well-crafted pop tunes. While you might enjoy the songs more if you’ve seen the songs performed live, if your family likes the music of Justin Roberts, SteveSongs, or Ralph’s World, you’ll probably find the album worth exploring. Recommended.