Spend 2 minutes and 16 seconds, listening to "Educated Kid," the title track and leadoff single from the Bay Area trio The Hipwaders' latest CD, Educated Kid, and try not to move or sing along in some way. Go ahead, try.
See, can't do it.
It's a great example of a pure power-pop song retrofitted just enough to allow the kids to groove to it, even get something out of it lyrically ("pursue your passion / do what you love / perservere / you'll rise above"), while retaining enough musical flourishes (the "uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" of the chorus, the handclaps) to make the older power-pop fan smile broadly.
While the rest of the disk doesn't quite reach the sugary heights of the title track, there are a number of other good songs on the CD, which was released this week. "Little Baby Brother" has a snappy "ba-ba-bas," "whooooos" and a dead-on kids-eye view of a child's response to a little brother ("Please don't break my toys / And I'll love you forever"). "Aidan's Train" is a sweet Beatle-esque melody. A lot of the tracks have a very XTC vibe -- "The History of Declan Rae" sounds like something from XTC's later period while the angluar "Art Car" and "Speed of Love" have early XTC influences -- in other words, it sounds like a Futureheads kids CD. Guitarist and songwriter Tito Uquillas continues his fascination with sharing educational facts in some songs. It could drag the disk down but it usually doesn't -- the facts typically come off as "hey, here's this really cool fact!" rather than overly didactic and some songs ("History of Declan Rae," in particular) pull it off rather well.
Kids ages 5 through 10 will most likely appreciate the songs and subject matter on the 39-minute CD. You can hear (and download) four of the tracks at the band's Myspace page or samples of all tracks at the album's CDBaby page.
Educated Kid marks a big step forward for the band. In reviewing their previous, self-titled CD, I said "they're not at a Ralph's World level of polish and songcraft yet, but give The Hipwaders time. They may just get there. " Folks, they're getting pretty close. Definitely recommended.