Bless Tim Kubart and his big pop heart. Whether he's playing his heart out as Tambourine Guy for Postmodern Jukebox or playing with Chica on Sprout's Sunny Side Up Show, the musician and actor dedicates himself to entertaining the viewer and listener to an uncommon degree, even for, well, entertainers.
Kubart's previous albums, a self-titled EP with his band Tim and the Space Cadets and a full-length Anthems for Adventure, contained bits of pop goodness and some tracks that begged to be heard in concert, but on his brand new album Home, out this week, Kubart goes the full pop monty. You will not hear a kids' music album this year that tries harder to hit pop heights, where you think repeatedly, "Oh, that would be fun to hear on the radio / in concert / on Friday Night Videos."
Luckily, it usually succeeds. The album title reflects its theme -- songs about life with family and in your home, wherever you and your family call it. "Breakfast Club" is a song celebrating breakfast, and just typing that, I know, it sounds so basic, but it's so poppy -- handclaps, slinky guitar work, and a nifty rap from Sunny Side Up co-star Carly Ciarrocchi -- that you find yourself singing along to a song, well, celebrating breakfast. "Showtime" features "Whoas" and "La la las" and a celebration of dressing up a la the Pop Ups' "Costume Party," albeit more uptempo.
On it goes, from the horn-assisted "Sunday Crafternoon," -- I know, that title -- on which Kubart's occasional fellow Postmodern Jukebox musician Drue Davis offers up another rap that by itself makes the song worth it to "Better," which goes all Lumineers on us and features a duet with kindie superstar Laurie Berkner. I heard echoes of Walk Off the Moon and '80s soundtrack legend Kenny Loggins in "Backyard Swinging," and of Thriller-era Michael Jackson in "Rooms." If Tim Kubart were female, I'm sure I'd be thinking of female pop juggernauts like Taylor Swift or Carly Rae Jepsen instead.
I can't say that I found the three "Job at the House" interludes -- which sound like commercial jingles for, well, household chores -- very engaging. And as always been Kubart's wont, his songs (written with longtime musical partner and fellow ex-Jimmies bandmate Matt Puckett) are super-focused on the kids lyrically, with less for the adults to latch onto. (That's not a criticism, but some families -- i.e., parents -- dig it, and others, less so.) Having said that, the album opener and closer, "Last Turn Home" and "Moving Day," which both ape fun.'s soaring singalong chorus style, attempt a more emotional approach to the subject of home and where it is and are definitely the two tracks that might appeal equally to a much broader audience on a topical level.
The 37-minute album is most appropriate for listeners 4 through 7, but its modern pop sounds are crafted to have a much broader appeal sonically. While I've always thought Kubart's music had their share of pop hooks, Home is bursting at the seams with them and is his best effort yet. As I said, bless Tim Kubart and his big pop heart. Definitely recommended.
Note: I received a copy of the album for possible review.