There was a Sunday morning sometime in 1994 when the world woke up terribly embarrassed that it had bought 16 million Hootie and the Blowfish records — and no doubt several shots of spiced rum — the night before. Hootie are now considered as beer goggles for the ear, a short-lived, nationwide experiment. But the embarrassment was proof that we’re suckers for easily accessible pop ditties that require scant, if any, examination. Just throw in a few plastic cups of draft brew and lead us to the dance floor. With their debut effort, Sorry About the Mess, Burlington’s Gutterpup carry on this tradition: They’re just here to have a good time.
“G-pup” have amassed a healthy following while working their way through the local bar circuit. Their pop-rock stylings — a blend of bubbly originals and covers — have garnered largely positive reviews. So it’s tough to gauge exactly what the disc’s title is apologizing for. This is a veteran band boasting musical polish and a collection of songs that are, for the most part, catchy, guilty pleasures.
“Losing Streak” typifies the Gutterpup formula. A brisk introductory verse, robust with singer David Abbott’s theatrical vocals, levitates to a sing-along chorus couched in optimistic-sounding major chords. Bookended by spooky, reverberating guitar phrases, the equally poppy chorus on “Basket Case” is another fine example of the aesthetic.
Not to be boxed in, the band makes use of a variety of instruments and musical styles. The brisk, calypso-tinged swing of “Then You Can Go” is driven by the rhythmic twang of guitarist Mitch Terricciano, while the full-bodied ballad “Parallel Lines” is grounded in the pleasant whirr of Andrew Manitsky’s keyboard..
Despite the record’s stylistic and instrumental diversity, Abbott’s dominating and occasionally exaggerated baritone is the focal point of each track. While he’s an engaging and energetic front man, he leaves no note unsung, and his relatively complex lyrical narratives can be awkward given the simplicity of the song structures. On the whole, Gutterpup needn’t apologize for their debut release, which ably captures their rousing, lighthearted style. Listeners can kill time soaking in Gutterpup’s melodious mess at Breakwater Café in Burlington this Saturday.