The Charlottetown quintet’s throwback jangle-pop shows up fully formed, with tight performances, stellar songwriting, and Joel Plaskett’s production.
A quick glance at the cover of the Moneygoround’s debut album Cruisin’ and Swingin’ with the Moneygoround will likely give many listeners a few ideas of what to expect. For some, it might be the stylized 1960s throwback imagery, which complements the Charlottetown quintet’s jangle-pop sound. For others, it could be the Joel Plaskett production credit in the top left corner; the east coast legend’s sound and influence on the album follow his tradition of high-quality work with like-minded musicians. But even if you’re just coming for the looks, Cruisin’ and Swingin’ with the Moneygoround is well worth the stay for some excellent songs.
Led by PEI music scene veteran Dennis Ellsworth, the Moneygoround have put together a series of short, hook-filled pop songs. The group then filters the tracks through their classic pop and rock influences. Though the Moneygoround takes its name from a Kinks song, at times, the band leans towards the early 1970s power pop of Big Star and the Raspberries. Most guitar and organ tones feel like conscious choices, going for simplistic and analogue sounds over more modern touches.
The Moneygoround recorded Cruisin’ and Swingin’… at Joel Plaskett’s studio in Nova Scotia, and his impact is quite evident on most tracks. Though most know Plaskett as a musician and performer, his production credits for Two Hours Traffic, Mo Kenney, and Shotgun Jimmie demonstrate his ability to get the best out of any artist. Plaskett’s flair for clean-sounding retro rock benefits the Moneygoround’s sound perfectly. Rather than focus on precisely replicating the nostalgic sounds the cover suggests, Plaskett’s approach lets the group’s tight chemistry come to the forefront.
I wrote earlier this year that the album’s leadoff single, “Girl in My Head,” is a fantastically catchy earworm that shows so much potential, and the rest of the tracks are just as stellar. So many songs are instantly memorable, with hook-filled choruses ready for sing-alongs. “Stupid Fight,” a mid-tempo rock track, wouldn’t feel out of place on a compilation with Sloan and other murderecords groups in the 1990s. Later in the album, the group lay out three of their strongest tracks in a row: the very Plaskett-like “She’s in Love;” the moody “Catch a Breeze;” and the aforementioned pop perfection of “Girl in My Head,” a song that I’ve kept on heavy rotation since first hearing it.
While some groups take time to find their groove, The Moneygoround arrive fully formed. Cruisin’ and Swingin’ with the Moneygoround has a broad appeal and the potential to find fans across the country, whether from its tight performances, stellar songwriting, or Plaskett production. No matter the reason you might have found the album, there are so many reasons to stay.
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