Call it indie rock, power pop, alternative country or what you will, the Velvet Crush's fourth album contains 13 strongly crafted, original pop songs full of bubbling emotion. Founding vocalist-bassist Paul Chastain and drummer Ric Menck have operated with a semirevolving lineup since their 1989 debut. Here most of the players are new, with co-producer Matthew Sweet also sharing musical duties and co-writing two songs.
Full of classic pop melodies driven by guitar, bass and drums, "Free Expression" is heavy on the power jangle that Sweet is famous for. Chastain isn't particularly strong vocally, but his clear, earnest voice is a good match for the wistful (yet hopeful) lyrical content.
The ultimate test of a pop song's worth is the spontaneous and uncontrollable desire to hear it played over again, and a good portion of "Free Expression" passes this test.