Kids' music is, as a general rule, a pretty positive genre. But Nashville's Adam and the Couch Potatoes have got to be, without a doubt, at the top of the list for positivity.
Which could be bad -- too much of a good thing and all that -- but somehow the band's debut CD One Size Fits All...! manages to keep the positive vibe going without driving the listener over the edge.
How exactly does it do that? Well, I think what drives a lot of parents nuts regarding "happy happy joy joy" music is the sense that the musicians are just putting on an act, that they don't believe what they're singing (at least not completely). On One Size Fits All...!, however, there's an energy and exuberance here that seems totally real and honest. Maybe the band doesn't quite follow the mantra of the power-pop leadoff track, "Never Gonna Be Bored!" (yes, there's an exclamation point there, just as with the end of the title of every single track) and ends up bored occasionally, but the spirit shines. "The Happy Song" is a driving song that pulls off the lyric "I'm just happy to live" without it sounding sappy. "That's Cool" would have fit great in "Free To Be You and Me" (well, topically if not exactly sonically). The songs themselves are played with verve and are crammed with vocal asides.
Indeed, if there's any downside to the 44-minute disk, it's that it's, well, an album on which every single track title ends with an exclamation point. Even the slower tracks (the goofy wordplay of "Driving," for example) seem jam-packed with so much excitement, that it's hard for the listener to catch their breath. "Scenes from a Shoe Shop" is as if Billy Joel decided to rework "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" into a kids' track, and it's that full of scenery. It's not until the end of the album, which shifts from the poppy sounds of the preceding tracks to a slower, more country sound, that the band relaxes. Those are three excellent songs -- "Great People," "Only One Time," and "Bedtime Ben," which probably would have served the album better scattered amongst the faster tracks.
Perhaps One Size Fits All...! is best taken in measured doses, but it doesn't mean it tastes like medicine. It's fun, bouncy, and I can't wait to hear what this young band comes up with next. Recommended.