After years essaying his own brand of roots rock, Paul Collins – the man behind beloved power pop legend the Beat – once again walks the streets of the old neighborhood with the declarative King of Power Pop. His true colors had been coming out on his last couple of records anyway, particularly on 2008’s Ribbon of Gold. With the recent reissues of his work with the Nerves and the Breakaways, it was inevitable that he’d jump back into the power pop pool with both feet. He’s mostly in a celebratory mood here, whether he’s talking about new love (“C’mon Let’s Go!,” guest-starring Nikki Corvette), kissing off an old one (“Off the Hook”) or just stating his purpose in life (“Doin’ It For the Ladies”). Especially sharp is “Kings of Power Pop” – it’s not an arrogant ego trip, but rather a wistful travelogue through Collins’ back pages when power pop seemed poised to take over the music industry. He rounds things out with covers of the Flamin Grooves (“You Tore Me Down”) and the Box Tops (“The Letter”), plus a folky bit of philosophy (“Many Roads to Follow”) co-written with his old bandmate Peter Case. Collins doesn’t fornicate around here – he just whips out nugget after nugget of catchy, melodic, chiming guitar pop with two guitars, bass and drums. The assertion in the album title may seem over the top, but after spinning King of Power Pop a few times, you’ll find it difficult to disagree.

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