Krayolas frontman Hector Saldaña likes to say that when his band formed in the mid-’70s, they were always the youngest guys in the bar, and now they’re the oldest.
That ability to laugh at the aging process is not too common in rock ’n’ roll and it helps to explain why the re-formed Krayolas are so successful at tapping the exuberance that always made their tuneful pop-rock so appealing. The naivete of youth is an ephemeral thing, and when that naivete is central to a group’s aesthetic, the music doesn’t easily translate to middle age. That issue vexed the Everly Brothers when they reunited in 1983 to make a well-crafted comeback album whose adult concerns didn’t suit those harmonies we associated with high-school crushes and drive-in movies.
The Krayolas still love the innocent jangle pop of their teens, but they don’t pretend to be kids anymore. As a result, they’re able to put across compelling adult fare like the regretful breakup ode “Alex” (with its insistent “All Along the Watchtower” chord pattern), the stately ballad “Your Doorway Darling,” and “Catherine,” a eulogy for an old friend, without any strain.
They’re aided by their not-so-secret weapon, Augie Meyers, whose inimitable organ work drives home the Tex-Mex connection that the band only hinted at in the days when admiring locals dubbed them the Mexican Beatles. What’s more, Meyers contributes three of his old songs to the album, and it’s on these tracks that The Krayolas free themselves to unabashedly revisit their youthful innocence. Saldaña even sings in a softer, younger voice on these tunes.
“What You Gonna Do For Love?” is a Zen-simple gem, with Meyers’ fast organ arpeggios providing the disc’s greatest moment of pure pop joy, while “Little Fox” and “We’ve Got a Secret” similarly lodge themselves in your memory banks for prolonged stays. That a 67-year-old keyboardist helps this band rediscover its teen panache is just one of those little ironies that makes pop so endlessly fascinating.
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