Hoy – Tastemakers & Heartbreakers

Tastemakers & Heartbreakers

Greg Hoy’s newest album, the terrific Tastemakers & Heartbreakers, follows two strong LPs, Hoy and Forever Endeavour, which earned positive reviews with melodic and memorable power-pop that frequently featured a witty chorus, an unpredictable set of pauses and guitar blasts, and vocals that exposed Hoy’s genuine sense of fun in creating and performing his songs. Tastemakers & Heartbreakers raises all of these elements to new levels and features Hoy’s catchiest tracks yet, a succession of power-pop gems that benefit from greater vocal sophistication and brilliant lyrics.

The album opens with hook-heavy political criticism in the form of “I Can’t Tell a Lie.” The lyrics include “Hey Mr. President! / Did you get the letter I sent? / It asked about the government / and where ‘We the People’ went” and “Said Hey, Mr. President! / Now it’s starting to make some sense / Do as I say not as I do / no need to mend a fence.” We can safely presume Hoy didn’t vote for the man who has lived in the White House since January 2001.

In addition to the most memorable melodies Hoy has released, Tastemakers & Heartbreakers features his strongest and cleanest vocal performance. On songs like the nostalgic stomp “Someone’s Calling Elvis” and the more subdued “Lady Take Your Time,” Hoy sings passionately, with emotion rarely heard on his earlier excellent efforts. His muscular guitar solo on the former track is countered by the gentle 60s approach on “Lady Take Your Time.”

Tastemakers & Heartbreakers is a treasure trove of exciting, infectious power-pop songs. Consider Hoy’s alternating vocal styles on the clap-happy “Kissy Kissy (New York City);” the swirling 70s sounds and tambourine tones of the ode to packing up and moving westward for love, glory, and pure joy that is “California Calling;” and the looping, manic analog synthesizers that guide Hoy’s accurate representation of love in “Feel the Feeling (of Love).”

There are also a few quieter tracks sprinkled throughout Tastemakers & Heartbreakers, reflecting the emotional spectrum Hoy explores. “Stars on Her Arms” benefits from vivid imagery, exquisite acoustic guitar settings, and lyrics like “Well, maybe she could be an actress / play guitar but never practice / Maybe she’s a Southern Baptist / cleans her house to Johnny Mathis.” John Lennon would have enjoyed collaborating with Hoy on “The Hope for Something Better.” Reflective, thought-provoking, instrumentally distant yet so close to the heart, “The Hope for Something Better” stands out on an album with many superb songs. Hoy’s voice even recalls Lennon, but the ideas and aural brilliance all originated in Hoy’s Brooklyn apartment.

That ability to tap into styles and moments of the past and offer fresh, innovative power-pop enables Hoy to excel in a genre with so many pretenders to the throne. He improves with each album, a difficult task considering past achievements. Hoy’s success derives from complete commitment of effort, passion, imagination, and musicianship to each individual song. Uniquely, everything flows; his albums never sound like a disjointed collection of tracks. For the unexposed, Hoy’s new album is his most interesting and accessible. Tastemakers & Heartbreakers confirms that Hoy is among the best contemporary pop-rock artists.