The Great American Novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Online (album cover photo by Christina Casillo)
When putting on the latest record from The Great American Novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Online, find a good, comfy seat with armrests you can really hold onto. If you’re driving, be mindful of that speedometer. If you’re on the street, be aware everyone can hear you singing along. This album explodes from the jump and soars across ten songs of love and heartbreak, with all the hallmarks power pop lovers crave: big, melodic guitars; thrilling harmonies; relentlessly hooky choruses; and a clever, hard-hitting rhythm section.
Singer/guitarist/songwriter Layne Montgomery’s wry wit infuses each tune. The blink-and-you-miss-it opener “Bad News, I Still Love You” is a perfect intersection of power pop and pop punk that sets the table for the album—and as soon as you’ve settled in, it’s straight into the next tune. “Grabbin’ A Slice” is a modern take on the well-traveled tale of boy losing girl, and shows the band leaping one earworm to another and then another. Intro guitar hooks lead right into the immediately hummable verses, building into a soaring chorus capped with well-placed “whoa-oh”s. The tragicomedy of the lyrics subverts the high-flying melodies: “Just like you said, ‘No shit, shithead’/I’m no smarter/I just feel older.”
The Great American Novel (photo by Kate Hoos)
When the band slows down the tempos, the tunes seem almost arena ready. “Do You Enjoy Being Depressed” could easily be all over the modern rock airwaves, possibly giving Kings of Leon a run for their NFT monies. “Coulda Fooled Me” is an outstanding cut, the midtempo groove allowing the harmonies between Montgomery and drummer Aidan Shepard to reach the full emotion of Montgomery’s heartbroken chorus, “Coulda fooled me/when you said you loved me/coulda fooled me for years.”
The record ends with the too-poignant, too-on-point “This Will Not Be Our Year.” Sure, it’s about a relationship falling apart, but it’s tough not to apply the chorus/title to what we’re currently all living through…again. Montgomery and Shepard’s harmonies are ever-present, along with excellent guitar harmony interplay between Montgomery and lead guitarist Ian Grey.
Beautifully produced by Billy Aukstik (who also contributes backing vocals) and expertly mixed and mastered by Alex Newport and Carl Saff, respectively, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Online is a determined and focused album. The band is in full control of its melodic prowess and rock power, delivering one of the great power pop records of the year.