The Orchid Highway

The Orchid Highway (Rainbow Quartz)

Rainbow Quartz is the perfect home for the Orchid Highway, as the band joins such impressive compatriots as Winnipeg’s (amazing) the Telepathic Butterflies on the monomaniacally power-pop–infatuated label. The fit is obvious within seconds of the faux-Badfinger intro to opener “Sofa Surfer Girl”, while the rest of this debut succeeds in the ultimate test of making all its hit-factory chord changes and marshmallow harmonies sound not just easy, but obvious.

That might read as faint praise, until you remember that the world is lousy with Big Star–quoting bands that fuck up the formula just as egregiously as the Orchid Highway masters it. The hard-charging feast of tumbling drums, precociously loud tambourine, and perfectly executed dual lead vocals of “Medicine Tree” steals from Big Star’s “The Ballad of El Goodo”, but only enough to remind us that the Orchid Highway is a clever and confident bunch. As easy as it is to find traces of everything from the Posies to Matthew Sweet and beyond in these crisp bursts of perfectly formed, sugar-sweet rock, the band’s wit and ability—just check the perfect match of lyrics to stoned melody in the funny ode to personal inertia, “Let’s Stay In Instead”—are enough to make peers out the Orchid Highway, not copycats.