On the list of vastly underrated ’90s bands, ones that got pummeled into the turf by ferocious grunge also-rans, the Posies hold a lofty perch. Even when they lacquered their congenial pop arrangements with thick guitar varnish on 1993’s Frosting on the Beater, all they had to show for it was one minor radio hit, “Dream All Day,” and a major label parent that couldn’t mash a few brain cells together to formulate a solid plan for exposing the Posies to a larger audience.
Not that we should lose sleep about Posies principals Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow; both have remained active, with each finding work on their own, in the studio, and with acts like R.E.M. and the Minus 5. But with Every Kind of Light, the Posies have a solid, second decade record that reiterates the potent songwriting chemistry between Auer and Stringfellow, a duo that shares frontman duties in an egalitarian manner not commonly seen around rock’n’roll.
On Every Kind of Light, Auer and Stringfellow try on most of the styles they embraced earlier in their career, particularly on the record’s mighty first half. Opener “It’s Great to Be Here Again!” is a sneaky multi-layered, mid-tempo shuffle with Auer’s acerbic, snide lines culminating in a halfhearted refrain: “I hope the party never ends.” Stringfellow, as usual, plays sweet to Auer’s sour, and his “Conversations” is a pitch-perfect, woozy ballad with an urgent chorus, the kind oft employed by the Posies’ Seattle-based indie progeny Death Cab for Cutie. Later, driving rockers “Second Time Around” and “I Guess You’re Right” quicken the pulse in a Frosting-style vein.
Even with a rather ho-hum second stanza, Every Kind of Light is an instant reminder that the ’90s would have been a far worse place without the Posies, and that this decade is much better off with them around.