The leader of the Beatifics, Chris Dorn, is a brilliant
songwriter, not only because his songs are exemplary, but because he's the first
person to successfully marry pop melodies with a sturdy rootsiness without sacrificing
one ounce of sweetness.
It's obvious how Dorn "Learned To Stop Worrying"-
he decided that it's better to bear his soul in his music than to sit around fretting
about broken relationships, a subject that is internalized throughout the songs on
this CD. Dorn has one of the sweetest, most engaging voices you'll hear in pop music,
and his songs carry so much melody that they're on the verge of bursting. There's
not one track on this album that is anything less than excellent, and many are great,
and Dorn so deftly communicates the gamut of emotions we run through when we lose
someone we love. From the blatant sadness of "Without A Doubt," to the
denial of "Last Thing On My Mind," to the rationalization of "Happy
To Be Sad," Dorn shows himself to be a man of vast experience in this area,
and we feel his empathy throughout.
All this being said, How I Learned To Stop Worrying is first
and foremost a pop record, and it's a veritable candy store. The best tracks are
the mildly flanged "Almost Something There," the could have been a hit
for George Harrison "Something/Anything," "This Year's Jessica,"
which accomplishes something the Beatifics' homeboys The Replacements could never
do -- write a rollicking pop song that didn't sound like it had a .25 blood/alcohol
Then there's the Vandalias-like (more homeboys) "Happy
To Be Sad," the propulsive "Those Kids," and... hell, EVERY song is
great, but perhaps the most moving is "Without A Doubt." Achingly beautiful
and sad, you can't help but have tears well up when you hear Dorn sing "Is it
so sad to watch a sweet thing die. I can't stand to be so sure," and the mellotron
in this song is used to great effect, sounding like a chorus of cries.
No pop fan on this earth or any other planet should be without
How I Learned To Stop Worrying. It's an emotional outpouring of sweet melodies and
guitars without ever being wimpy, and it's a confessional that's vital to our well
-- David Bash