The Perfect Pop Song is an elusive beast but in the right hands those three power chords can change your world for three glorious minutes. Throw in some twisted lyrics and a band with Attitude and you've got a memorable brew like "United Paper People" - the debut album from Melbourne rock band Kisschasy.
Darren ("Daz") Cordeux - singer, guitarist and songwriter for Kisschasy - is only 20 years old but for the last six years he's been obsessed with penning The Perfect Pop Song. While his peers were still struggling with quadratic equations and the French revolution, Daz had already dropped out of school and was holed up in his bedroom with his guitar.
As Cordeaux explains it... "we don't write 'poppy' music to be digestible or to appeal to radio, we write it because we love it. We're suckers for a sweet melody. The careful thing to do in a rock band is to avoid being cheesy, as long your passionate that's what makes it a hard hitting song".
Daz's knack for passionate and timeless songs has already helped Kisschasy become one of the most promising new bands in the country. The group, completed with Sean Thomas(guitar), Joel Vanderuit(bass) & Karl Ammitzboll(drums) formed in 2002. All growing up together in the small country town of Ballnarring in the picturesque Mornington Peninsula, the 3 other guys minus Daz had nothing better to do with their time than practise Pennywise covers in Karls Attic. However it wasn't until a chance meeting between Daz and bassist Joel Vanderuit at the 2002 Warped Tour, that they knew that they had to ditch their current musical outfits and form what we know today as Kisschasy.
Even though their average age is only 20 years this young quartet has been touring nationally for the last three years. They've released two successful EPs on indie label Below Par, and played alongside a host of Australian and International acts including Brand New, Gyroscope, Pennywise & The Ataris. But even with the indie success of the band's debut singles ("Darkside" and "Reminder"), it's always been clear that their best was yet to come.
And it's in their debut album - "United Paper People" - that the band has truly delivered the set of songs we all hoped they would. Bass player Joel Vanderuit gives us an insight into the disc's title:
"United paper people was a metaphor in one of our songs about somebody tearing apart something that is perfect. Like one of those paper chains you make when you're young where the people are joined by the hand."
It's a great metaphor for the band's slightly twisted approach to their pop songs - perfect pop melodies are wrapped with eccentric words and then slammed into your ears from odd angles by a seasoned rock band.
The album was recorded and produced by Phillip McKellar (Silverchair, Grinspoon) in Sydney over a couple of frantic weeks in February 2005. The band then flew to Seattle in March to mix "United Paper People" with Barrett Jones (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Evermore) - sleeping on floors and dining on two minute noodles so that they could afford his help.
The resulting 13 songs is a beautifully balanced collection with all the ingredients expected of a great alterna-pop/rock album - a mix of uncontrived emotion and straightup fun with the musicianship to make each track deliver its worth.
From the opening lines of the lead single, "The Do Do's and Whoa-ohs" ("This is a toast to all the people listening. I hope it gets stuck in your head. So tap your feet and click, click, click your fingers. Let's make the rest of the world care"), one can hear the self-assurance and touch of irony that distinguishes their songs. There are not many young bands that can get away with such a statement, but Daz Cordeux's cheeky yet earnest nature both on and off stage explains why the words seem so natural.
"I wrote the music for that song before the lyrics and it sounded like such an immediate pop song. So I thought 'that's what the song is gonna be about'", Cordeux chuckles. "It's not so much a pisstake as it is a song to let people know who we are. We're a pop band, we're not afraid to let the world know that. It's written in a tongue-in-cheek sense but it's more about having a good time and letting loose: a real kind of sing-a-long."
The album has no lack of tracks that are contenders for the Perfect Pop Song mantle. For example, "Face Without A Name" is sure to make radio stations and listeners perk up their ears and want to sing along. "Hearing Voices Tonight" displays the bands quirkier side with its slightly offbeat verses, while the folk like "Morning" strips everything back to just a single guitar and an extremely raw vocal performance.
Given the melodic shimmer of the tunes, it's easy at first to miss the complexities behind their lyrics. While Kisschasy are no strangers to writing a quirky anthem, many of the words behind the songs are intriguing and complicated - often dealing with dark and explicit imagery to explain simple sounding things. Clearly all those teenage years Daz spent writing songs in his bedroom were not wasted!
The album's darker moments are also some of the most appealing. From the stripped back ferocity of the title track, to the building sense of desperation in the acoustic laden "The Shake", this is clearly a disc with an acute sense of the entire emotional spectrum.
But it is in the finale, "Black Dress", that the band delves into perhaps the most eerie mindset on display. As Cordeux sings to a dead lover about digging her up to spend his life with her, the band builds the song into a triumphant piano & string driven ballad - each moment accentuating the madness of the singer's plans. "They'll find your headstone in the yard with your black dress and my guitar. I'll carry you back to your grave where you and I will always stay. I close the casket, it gets dark they'll find us in each others arms." As the song ends you can hear the loss in the singer's voices as he hums a soothing melody.
It's moments like these that Kisschasy displays a maturity beyond its years - both for writing songs with a wealth of new ideas and sensibilities, and for having the musicianship and attitude to make the songs work.
It's the same attitude that made bands like Weezer and The Lemonheads so relevant. It's the realization that this band is being themselves regardless of what you think, but still knowing that you're probably going to enjoy it. And the feeling that even though the music seems so effortlessly pleasing that it looks so easy, that the band has put everything of themselves into it.
"United Paper People" may or may not contain that elusive Perfect Pop Song - you decide - but it's undeniably a passionate and distinctive collection that deserves to be heard by everyone who still believes that three chords can change your world.