Back in the good ol’ days, Power of Pop focused mainly on the Pop Underground – melodic pop-rock inspired by the 60s/70s. Much of the content is no longer available and so this special feature will correct that oversight. Get ready to be educated, hipster kids!

THE FORMAT – Dog Problems (Vanity, 2006)

There is a thin line between emo punk and powerpop.

What am I talking about?

Punk of course, was partly a back-to-basics revival of mid-60s powerpop ala The Who, The Small Faces, The Move et al.


The current generation’s alt-rock with the likes of Dashboard Confessional, Jimmy Eats World, Get-Up Kids et al, have caught the imagination of teenagers worldwide.

With Arizona’s The Format, that line is totally blurred as Sam Means and Nate Ruess mixes a heady, eclectic brew from the ingredients of emo punk and powerpop with their sophomore effort, Dog Problems.

Ostensibly written about Ruess’ recent relationship breakup, Dog Problems is a rather joyful album with vibrant instrumentation, infectious melodies and bright harmonies dominating to create a shiny pop sheen.

No exaggeration to claim that Dog Problem might well be the emo generation’s own Pet Sounds, Spilt Milk (Roger Manning Jr. contributes to many tracks here) and A Wizard, A True Star. In other words, a pop masterpiece.

Songs like the whimsical “Matches,” the gorgeous “I’m Actual,” the dynamic “Time Bomb,” the catchy “She Doesn’t Get It,” the bip-bopping “Oceans,” the jolly “Dead End,” the sardonic “The Compromise” and the folky “If Work Permits” highlight the sheer mastery of the pop form that the Format is able to boast.

I love the Format! You will too! And… “emo sucks” but the Format sure does not!

Check the video of The Format live in performance with Time Bomb below.

(Nate Ruess is now fronting the hugely successful Fun.)


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