This is a good Monkees album, by which I mean it's fun and adventurous 60's pop/rock that you don't need to feel bad about liking.
If it was as fake as some people suggest, then how do they explain "The Door Into Summer", an intelligent song with a tasteful arrangement, enjoyable melody, and thoughtful lyrics that aren't making any concessions to the teenage market?
Davy Jones' "Hard To Believe" is the only sellout here. It may be saccharine yet it's warmer and more powerful than your below-average computerized N'Sync ballad. He redeems himself anyway, with a raunchy vocal on the primitive rocker "She Hangs Out".
Elsewhere, there's a handful of clever pop songs with solid vocals (mostly from Mike Nesmith), propulsive basslines, and inventive arrangements, all of which are too rough and experimental to be blatantly commercial.
Two downsides: firstly, almost everything was donated by professional songwriters, mostly esoteric character sketches that emphasize the distance between writer and performer; and secondly, most of the songs (like the big Goffin-King hit "Pleasant Valley Sunday") are fun but not transcendant like the tunes on the next album.
Boyce and Hart's powerful "Words" is slightly better, but the only real exception is the Nesmith-sung "What Am I Doing Hangin' Round", a desperate and energetic country-rocker.
Only two songs are self-composed, and they're both Nesmith's ... "Daily Nightly" is a sincere psychedelic rocker with a typical hypnotic Nesmith melody, while "Don't Call On Me" is boring lounge music. The only annoying track is Goffin-King's cheesy "Star Collector".
The Monkees really wanted to be good, and they had just enough talent (and help) to make it work here, resulting in a great record for anyone who loves 60's music.Rated:
by Reviewer: Cosmic Ben
(blogging at Cosmic Ben [Defunct]