Listen to this track from Toronto-based power pop via hard rock idols The Pursuit of Happiness. It’s “Hard To Laugh”, the lead-off track and third Canadian radio single (after “I’m An Adult Now” and “She’s So Young”) from their 1988 debut album Love Junk. This is a tune that is both shit-kicking and self-deprecating all in one go. That’s the magical ingredient to classic power pop, good people!
Here’s a story about a guy who’s out of his depth where his woman is concerned, with a suspicion that she may well be playing him for a fool that may or may not be a product of his own insecurity. It’s a variation of a quintessential power pop song theme – wanting the girl you can’t have. This time, the girl has been won, but it’s keeping her that proves to be the goal that remains out of reach.
The song, and the band was conceived and led into glory by one Moe Berg, a songwriter with a love for short stories, Cheap Trick, and Alice Cooper. Berg had as firm understanding that tough-sounding music against vulnerable, anti-macho lyrics creates a compelling concoction that is all about contrast, irony, and a unique brand of wit that doesn’t stray into jokey silliness. When it comes to pop smarts, of course, it helps that the guy in the producer’s chair knows a thing or two about them – Todd Rundgren. Read more