Bubble Gum Orchestra - The Discovery
Michael Laine Hildebrandt, the mastermind behind Bubble Gum Orchestra, has a real knack for making grown men feel like kids at the circus. Aside from being the most prolific pop star on the scene, Hildebrandt may very well be the most consistent as well. The Discovery is BGO’s third full length album, and it continues where the first two releases left off. The overwhelming harmonies are like raging waves that run through this entire disc. When those harmonies are accompanied by an upbeat keyboard part and Hildebrandt’s simplistic, childlike vocals, these songs play to our most adolescent desires. I snapped my fingers. My ears were touching my shoulders like a metronome. I felt like hopping a merry-go-round and then calling childhood friends. This is what BGO music will do to you. Just so you know how dangerous this can be - I have SpaghettiO’s and Pop Rocks for lunch whenever I listen to this record.
Yes, this is a fun album that makes you feel young again, but I don’t want to take away from the serious musicianship on the album. Hildebrandt writes the music and lyrics for just about everything here. He plays bass. He plays guitar. He plays keyboards. Hell, he’s even the drummer. Douglas Hildebrandt, Michael’s brother, plays quite a large part of BGO as well. Aside from playing 6 and 12 string electric and acoustic guitars, he is a writer or co-writer on four of these tracks, including what might be my favorite song on the record (“Evil, Evil Girl”). Doug does all of the artwork design as well. And, if you’ve ever seen a BGO album, you know what an accomplishment that is.
As he has in the past, Michael Laine Hildebrandt has teamed up with Wings brass man Steve Howard for two songs. Howard’s trumpet can take a song to a new level, as evidenced by “There Goes My Baby.” This is a song that is just decent until Howard’s horn spices it up and turns it into one of my favorite dishes on the disc.
Bubble Gum orchestra always makes more than a few references to The Beatles, ELO, and others through their music and their artwork. Instead of denying their love for these geniuses of pop songwriting, BGO embraces the fact that they embellish the songs with nods to these pop heroes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s refreshing to finally hear someone that can carry that pop torch, and do it with a smile, a nod, and a wink.