Being prolific isn’t exactly a trait that can be attributed to many artists. The artists you find creating on a faster than normal basis are usually bands with multiple songwriters, or solo artists that are more poet than musician. It’s much too early to call Michael Laine Hildebrandt, the father of this BGO brainchild, a prolific poet, so let’s just call him a creative musician that stays very busy. I feel like I just reviewed the debut, and now I have another full pack of Bubble Gum Orchestra to chew on. My fear as I unwrapped this CD, was to find a flat sounding slab of music that was missing all the nuances that I liked about the debut. When artists rush to get product out, they often cut corners and sacrifice the “small stuff.” I was hoping to get the same orchestration and string arrangements, and the clean production values that the debut harnessed, and Hildebrandt did not disappoint.
Like the debut, this second volume of pop songs delivers on the fun and entertaining “small stuff.” It has the little twinkle and assorted percussion. It has the jet fueled, spacey sound effects. And, it definitely has the orchestral arrangements, vocal harmonies and sharp production. Where Hildebrandt finds the time to create I have no idea, but I sure am thankful that he does. These are simple pop songs made into very complex and layered compositions. In traditional pop fashion, almost all of these songs are under 3:30; but he makes the best of that time, and most of these tracks feel like complete journeys.
Much of this sophomore effort is in line with the debut disc, with the exception of a more melancholic sound on a few tracks. The lilting strings of “Distant Song” and “Symphony Of Sorrow” bring a slightly darker mood, while “To You From Me” sounds like a pop adaptation of a Bach piece, which adds a more distinguished and serious tone. Even with some darker moods, this is a feel good disc full of nice hooks. “Cloud 9 (When We Were Young)” is one of the more solemn tunes, but the catchy countdown and dreamy harmonies make this a sweet nostalgic song that I can listen to over and over. Hildebrandt’s vocals are still dreamy and simple with ultra complex layering techniques. I believe it’s this vocal layering of his frustratingly simple voice that gives BGO its distinct personality more than anything else. A great example of this vocal layering comes by way of a song called "Blowin' Away," which also features a guest appearance by Steve Howard of Paul McCartney and Wings. Howard's trumpet, combined with Hildebrandt's upbeat vocals, makes for a true pop pleasure. “Carrie In My Dreams,” “Loving One Another,” and “Today Is Beautiful” are also tunes that keep a smile on your face and your head rocking from shoulder to shoulder.
It remains to be seen whether Michael Laine Hildebrandt will continue his prolific ways with this BGO project, but I’m willing to wait for BGO III if he can maintain a level of creativity and musicianship like he’s exhibited on this release.
You can visit the official BGO website here: www.bubblegumorchestra.com