Torn Apart • Ripete EP -Kurt Loder
Rolling Stone, 1984
Merserybeat was a brief musical moment on the rock & roll time line, but what a moment. Twenty years later, its trademark jangling guitars and high harmonies can still induce instant nostalgia for the irrecoverable innocence of that era. North Carolina’s SpongeTones have the sound of the first British invasion down cold, as they demonstrated on their debut album, Beat Music, and on Torn Apart, their new, six song EP, they offer further proof that they can write, too.
The SpongeTones’ main aural icons are the Beatles, of course. The yearning vocal that rises above the whining combo organ and lagged beat of “Lana-NaNa” is eerily Lennon-esque, and there’s good, dumb fun to be had inserting your own head shaking oohs into the exhilarating “Have You Ever Been Torn Apart?” Equally neat are the lovely “Now Your Gone,” with its crispy strummed acoustic guitar, and (My Girl) Maryanne,” which conjures up the gorgeous fizz of peak-period Hollies. Not every song works: “Shock Therapy,” a respectable rocker that does not partake of the Mersey canon, sounds out of place in these highly stylized surroundings, and “Annie Dear,” which evokes the playful mannerisms of Paul McCartney, may seem less than lovable to those who feel that Paulie’s particular brand of whimsy played itself out long ago. For the most part, though, the SpongeTones’ delightful tributes to the mist-shrouded Mersey era are so well crafted that they might well have been hits back then. Certainly they deserve to be heard here and now.