You see, when I first started working in the store, there was this one employee I came to know as 'The Penguin' due to his longish torso and stubby legs. The Penguin always insisted on putting on his own mix of music from the moment he arrived to the moment he left, and his taste in music was hideous. Generic techno and that modern sludge the record labels try to pass off as rhythm and blues, bands like Train led by doofuses who obviously wrote their lyrics in college to get into the pants of freshmen girls and bands like Guns and Roses who equate loudness and brashness with importance...and most importantly, bands with a certain type of vocalist.
It was from this last category that I threw The Click Five due to the fact that The Penguin only played their one hit, 'Just The Girl' in his rotation. 'Just The Girl' is one of those songs which falls apart once you listen to the lyrics--when you realize what I total sadistic jerkhole the woman the POV singer is talking about, and what an even bigger jerkhole the singer is for putting up with all this terrible abuse with a smile on his face, the song stops being fun. This isn't like, let's say, The Offsping's 'Self-Esteem,' which presents us with a POV character who recognizes his inability to leave his abuser as pathetic, or Fountains Of Wayne's 'I'll Do The Driving,' where the POV character stays with a desire to lead his girlfriend out of her small-minded habits...this is a guy who seems to crave this abuse with a smile on his face and open arms.
(Imagine my surprise, incidentally, when I learned that 'Just The Girl' was co-written by Fountains of Wayne maven Adam Schlesinger, and that the FoW had a hand in convincing Atlantic to sign The Click Five.)
Eventually, The Penguin moved on, and I went about my life...until the Music section of the excellent Popdose website ran a story about The Click Five and their struggles with their original label Atlantic (a struggle apparently built around their desire to move away from their original proto-Mod gimmick) and their search for a new label. The article came with a rather generous sample of songs from their two Atlantic albums, so I downloaded and sampled them...
And they're good. They're damn good. Great harmonies, excellent melodies that sometimes evoke the classic new wave of the 80's, sometimes the overproduced-on-purpose denseness of the Phil Spector school...and even though their canon contains songs similar to 'Just A Girl,' they show a greater deal of self-awareness and wit than that song I hated so much.
This song is from the new wave end of the Click Five pool; that skronky keyboard is definitely from the early days of MTV. And it's about a classic power pop delimma--namely, the boy who wants the girl who is attracted to him but embarrassed by his un-coolishness. And unlike the willing victim in the cycle of abuse that is the singer of 'Just A Girl,' this POV character is taking the high road...he's acknowledging how he's been used, how his lack of status is what's keeping them apart. But, he warns the object of his affection that he's under her skin, that even as he lets her go off on her own, he knows she'll return to him...and he won't sit in a corner by the phone, but he will be waiting. And the song has so closely melded the vocals with the melody that it's hard to separate them.
Apparently, The Click Five has been quietly touring New England and cultivating their big followings outside of America...and unbeknownst to us, a new album, TVC, is out and waiting for our purchasing....