Review: Super Audio Sunshine - Todd McHatton


If Dan Zanes coined the phrase "age-desegregated music" for his folk-rock take on traditional songs from across the country (and globe), Southern California's Todd McHatton has taken that attitude and applied it to psychedelic power-pop.  While some of his music has occasionally tapped into a more childlike part of the brain as in his massive kindie hit "I Think I'm a Bunny," which featured the winsomely squeaky monster Marvy Monstone, mostly he's recorded music accessible to all ages.

This doesn't change on his latest album, Super Audio Sunshine.  Sure, Marvy makes his now traditional album appearance, this time on the (happily) existential album closer "Every Little Monster."  But for the most part, the occasional song like "A Slice of Pie" -- yes, it's about eating pie -- which resides squarely in what we might think of as kindie is usually followed immediately by a song like "What Makes Me Smile," which with only the most minor of changes would be a pure pop-rock love song.  (It is a pure pop rock love song, though, to be sure.)

McHatton doesn't alter his sonic approach from past work, either -- "Wonderbuzz" could be a long-lost track from XTC's long-lost kid-friendly album, and songs like "Refreshments on Neptune" and "Giraffe On a Flaming Unicycle" are every bit as far-out as those song titles imply.  As a result, McHatton's music can be an acquired taste and families who prefer their kindie more conventional might not groove to the whole thing.

The album is best suited for kids ages 4 and up, with no real upper age limit (see discussion above); you can stream the entire 41-minute album here.  As McHatton himself noted, he finds it "much more interesting and exciting to write about fantastical, dynamic, bizarre things than to rehash any common, tired, depressing, dark subject matter."  Super Audio Sunshine is another example of that artistic principle at work, and most families will find at least a few songs exercising their bliss muscles.  Recommended.

Note: I received a copy of the album for possible review.