It’s okay for men, even the “Heterosexual Man,” to show emotions and a vulnerable side.
The Vancouver power-pop quartet, the Odds, see to it on its second Zoo Entertainment album, “Bedbugs,” one of the year’s best buried treasures.
Through 12 tracks of pop-rock gems in the tradition of XTC and Crowded House, the Odds follow the evolution and dissolution of a relationship. On the CD’s back cover, a short phrase alongside each cut explains the song’s place in what drummer Paul Brennan calls “a loosely based theme.”
“It was an accident, actually,” Brennan said in a recent interview during the band’s East Coast tour. “But once we realized all the songs had been written and recorded and tallied up, it was like, ‘There’s a theme here.’ Basically, it’s the journey of a guy trying to come to terms with being a guy and all the things that means, from being sensitive to being a pig and being responsible and being irresponsible.”
The theme begins with the male animal (on the track “Jack Hammer”), who becomes addicted to love (“Car Crash Love”), acknowledges a problem, falls apart, dives back into bachelorhood (“Heterosexual Man”), flounders, trips out and eventually apologizes.
Brennan said he and the other Odds – singer/songwriter/guitarists Steven Drake and Craig Northey and bassist Doug Elliott – didn’t intentionally write songs that follow a relationship through its light and dark hours.
“It was just the muse of time,” he said. “We had been on the road for quite some time, and I guess the choice was either write about driving long drives and experiencing things as a band or write about how being away has affected the relationships at home.
“Two of us, myself and another member, were going through breakups, and the other two, their relationships survived. It was a strange time. The feeling in the band at that point was, “Oh, no, what do we do now?’ “
Admitting that men have more than their share of flaws is half the battle.
“I don’t know if it’s a matter of men being (jerks) or being ill-advised or uneducated on how women think and whether or not they bother to find out or ask what women think,” Brennan said. “Men have been taught from early on not to show emotions, not to cry, not to show any signs of what society deems as a weakness. As a result, there’s a lot of men walking around not totally conscious and not thinking.”
The track stirring up the most talk is “Heterosexual Man,” the album’s first single. It’s a tongue-in-cheek anthem putting macho men in their place. The “offender” sings: “I’m a heterosexual man/ It’s just a problem with my glands.”
“We were expecting women to go, ‘Oh, you guys are totally gross,’ ” Brennan said of reactions to the song, “but actually what’s happened is a lot of men are getting insecure. They’re saying, ‘I’m not like that. I don’t act like that. I don’t think like that. I’m a ’90s kind of guy.’ “
The Odds pack their power into solid three-and-half-minute melodies, a grossly underrated genre.
“There’s like a subculture of people who are extremely passionate about guitar pop,” Brennan said, “and the real challenge is getting the other people and turning them on to it.”
BWF (before we forget): The Odds released its “Good Weird Feeling” (1995) and “Nest” (1997) albums on Elektra. … Go against the Odds on the Web @ www.oddsweb.com or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.