While the Contrast haven’t moved enough merchandise either at home in the U.K. or across the pond in the States to truly merit a “greatest-hits” album, Little Steven Van Zandt is enough of a fan to think they deserve one anyway, and one or two spins of Perfect Disguise: Introducing the Contrast, compiled for Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool Records label, is enough to convince nearly anyone that the guy has a valid point.
Featuring choice cuts from the Contrast’s first five albums, Perfect Disguise is a near-perfect amalgamation of jangle pop melodies, indie rock attitude, and new wave guitar heroics (if Tom Verlaine and Peter Buck had a baby, the kid would play a lot like Contrast brainchild David Reid). These 14 songs don’t exactly shy away from the band’s obvious influences, but the energy and power of the group’s attack are fresh and invigorating, and “Caught in a Trap,” “Believe,” and “Disconnected” really do sound like hit singles, with irresistible hooks and choruses to die for. It’s arguable if this collection really needed two versions of both “Mystery” and “Perfect Disguise,” but the songs show enough variety in electric and acoustic form to show just how strong these tunes are and that they can take on different shapes and still shine brightly. Most fans of smart pop and contemporary garage rock probably aren’t all that familiar with the Contrast (at least not in the United States), and Perfect Disguise is an ideal introduction to a fine, woefully underrated band that truly delivers the goods.
Review: All Music
Perfect Disguise: Introducing the Contrast (Wicked Cool Records, 2007)