Off the top of your head, what would you expect the side project from the drummer of Comets On Fire to sound like? When I first saw the name Colossal Yes and knew the main man behind the project (Utrillo Kushner), I have to admit that I figured it would be more thudding stoner rock, but Acapulco Roughs is about as far away from that as one could get. As it turns out, Kushner has been playing the piano for almost fifteen years now, and his side project has a much more celebratory and kind sound, calling to mind 70s adult contemporary pop.
This isn't all tongue-in-cheek either, as Colossal Yes sounds about as faithful as one could get. It's pure piano-man pop with lots of flutes and some strings and slightly sappy production that reminds one of music that came out thirty years ago. "Just Like A Mademoiselle" opens the disc with some great horn arrangements and a solid rhythm section backing up the piano tinkling and Kushner's fragile vocals and it's at this opening moment where you'll know whether this album is going to trip your cheese trigger or not. Even at my most cynical, I have to admit a weak spot for this type of stuff. Going back in time, this is the kind of stuff that dominated the airwaves at the time when I first remember even listening to music.
After a shorter, slightly more rocking second track, the album takes off into AOR land again with a couple gems, including "The Honeycreeper Smiles," which sounds like the theme music for some sort of fictional 70s show that takes place on the beach. "A Fig For Misfortune" gets a bit more loose with the instrumentation, including some nice little guitar solos, and a more swaggering rhythm section. One of the most effective songs on the entire album is "Between Ass & Ophir," a more downcast track that finds rumbling drum fills rolling over the top of more understated instrumentation and vocals.
All of the above said, one of the biggest downfalls of the album are the song lengths themselves. Although the tracks have fairly conventional structures, they stretch out for long swaths, and only a single song clocks in at under four minutes long (with a majority closing in on six). "Poor Boy's Zodiac" is the worst offender, and even though it mixes in a couple slight dynamic changes and some well-placed harmonica, it simply rambles on for too long at over eleven minutes considering Kushner's limited vocal range. As a whole, Acapulco Roughs isn't a mindblower, but it's definitely a nice diversion if you're looking for a 70s-inspired breeze (and a little cheese) in your life.