Title - What If It Works? (Expanded Edition)
Artist - The Loud Family & Anton Barbeau
For those unaware, the end of the era of the Loud Family came quietly as 2000’s “Attractive Nuisance” tour wound down, with the band’s final hometown return show cancelled by the club due to presumed lack of interest.
While they remained popular with fans, the benefits of touring had begun to diminish, costing more than the band recovered. Scott Miller, who’d fronted Game Theory from 1982-90, was preparing to start a family and working a full-time job in tech as he anticipated stepping back from music to focus on the rest of life.
At the same time, psych-pop singer-songwriter Anton Barbeau was ramping up his career at full speed, releasing new music at a fiery rate, working with musicians and labels from both the U.S. and the U.K. (including the Bevis Frond and members of the Soft Boys, Cake, Hawkwind, and Camel & the Candyskins).
Scott and Anton had been friends since the late 1980s and had worked together on Anton’s recordings on and off from soon after they’d met. Six years after Scott stepped away from music professionally, Scott’s wife Kristine remarked on how good the two sounded together at a casual Sacramento gig, and suggested they record together.
That’s how Scott and Anton teamed up to record an album for the Bay Area indie 125 Records, a label that had championed both artists in the early ’00s.
The result was the 2006 release What If It Works?, an album full of breezy brightness and irresistible pop melodies inspired by the music of Scott’s and Anton’s youth.
Setting aside the thoughts of moral philosophy and moments of melancholia that, in part, informed the late Loud Family era, yet sacrificing none of his melodic and lyrical genius, Scott teamed back up with fellow Loud Family bandmates Kenny Kessel and Jozef Becker (with Gil Ray and Alison Faith Levy on hand as well) and brought some of his best work to the project.
Scott seemed happy to be returning and, in a sense, his writing recalls the less serpentine melodies of his pre-Lolita Nation Game Theory days. For Anton it was a chance to work with Scott as equals, delivering the full incandescence of his gift for insanely catchy pop songs with members of the Loud Family behind him.
What If It Works? is a gift of an album, an unexpected return from Scott and another great work from Anton. Stunning songwriting from both and a few cover songs from the ’60s and ’70s make the ease and joy of their collaboration abundantly clear.
This What If It Works? (Expanded Edition) reissue, due out March 25th, 2022 as CD and Digital from Omnivore Recordings, features the original release, plus eleven bonus tracks — ten previously unissued (and the other from a rare promotional CD).
The packaging features photos, an essay from Stew Stewart (2008 Drama Desk and Tony Award winner for Passing Strange and founder of The Negro Problem), and a conversation between Barbeau and Scott’s widow, Kristine Miller, discussing the making of the record.
1. Rocks Off
2. Song About “Rocks Off”
3. Pop Song 99
4. Total Mass Destruction
5. Flow Thee Water
6. Remember You
7. (Kind Of) In Love
8. Mavis Of Maybelline Towers
9. I Think I See the Light
10. What If It Works?
2006 Bonus Tracks:
11. Don’t Bother Me While I’m Living Forever
12. I’ve Been Craving Lately
2022 Bonus Tracks:
13. Third Eye (Scott’s Vocal)
14. Little Daisy (Scott’s Mix)
15. (Kind Of) In Love (Scott’s Sketch Demo)
16. (Kind Of) In Love (Anton’s Demo)
17. Song About “Rocks Off” (Demo)
18. I Wanna Make You Come Just By Looking At Your Eye (Demo)
19. Rise of the Chokehold Princess (At Anton’s)
20. Pop Song 99 (Demo)
21. Don’t Bother Me While I’m Living Forever Demo)
22. What If It Works? (Demo)
23. Just Gone (At Anton’s)
Tracks 14–23 previously unissued
This brilliantly authentic, abundantly raw, energetic and just one massively wholesome flashback to a youthful exuberance within time, opens on their cautiously rambunctious cover of The Stones’ Rocks Off and the drum-led rocker Song About “Rocks Off” and backs those up seamlessly with the ’70s-imbibed pop-rock of Pop Song 99, the rhythmic Total Mass Destruction, the melodically layered Flow Thee Water, and then we get the Hammond-grounded Remember You, the gentle pop sensibilities of (Kind Of) In Love.
Next up is the gentle guitar frenzy of Mavis Of Maybelline Towers and the piano and tambourine delights of I Think I See the Light which are in turn followed by the pop breeze of the title track What If It Works?, before the two 2006 bonus tracks come into play: the jangling guitars of Don’t Bother Me While I’m Living Forever and one of my own personal favorites, the ’60s-imbibed brilliance of I’ve Been Craving Lately.
The remainder of the expanded edition continues onward with a run of 2022 bonus tracks, which begin with Third Eye (Scott’s Vocal), Little Daisy (Scott’s Mix), and (Kind Of) In Love (Scott’s Sketch Demo), before we head into (Kind Of) In Love (Anton’s Demo) and a demo version of Song About “Rocks Off” (Demo).
Along next is another demo version, this time the drum-tastic, vocally distorted excellence of the naughtily titled I Wanna Make You Come Just By Looking At Your Eye, which is itself backed by the quietly acoustic Rise of the Chokehold Princess (At Anton’s), a trio of demoes: Pop Song 99, Don’t Bother Me While I’m Living Forever and the title track What If It Works?, the album closing on another acoustic foray, this time for Just Gone (At Anton’s).
Omnivore has also reissued all of the original albums from Scott Miller’s Game Theory as expanded remasters including Across The Barrier of Sound: PostScript, 2 Steps From the Middle Ages, The Big Shot Chronicles Lolita Nation, Real Nighttime Distortion Pointed Accounts of People You Know, Dead Center, and Blaze of Glory.
Omnivore presents The Loud Family and Anton Barbeau - What If It Works?
Official Purchase Link