This Is Easy: The Best Of Marshall Crenshaw

(2000), 8.5/10
Marshall Crenshaw’s a good candidate for a compilation, since he’s hooky and succinct, yet inexplicably not all over the radio. If the early material on this album still sounds freshest and most exciting, Crenshaw’s ability to create memorable hooks didn’t decline if the songs chosen here are anything to go by. There’s also a clear stylistic shift between each album, with the debut featuring his unabashedly poppy, energetic three piece, the sophomore Field Day with a bigger rock sound helmed by Steve Lillywhite, a foray into country on his T-Bone Burnett-produced third album Downtown and so forth. It’s also nicely packaged with a commentary from Crenshaw on each song (defending Lillywhite’s production: “Field Day is an honest, interesting, and cool record. With a really terrible picture on the front cover. D’oh.”).

The four selections from the debut still sound fresh and exciting and the omission of strong tracks like ‘Girls…’ is only proof of how strong the set is. The 4-track demo ‘You’re My Favourite Waste Of Time’, featuring plastic maracas, which originally surfaced as the b-side of ‘Someday, Someway’ is easily a highlight. The melancholy ‘Blues Is King’ hits on an inventive, original melody, while ‘Calling Out For Love (At Crying Time)’ also utilises the country music form to good effect. Later tracks like ‘Starless Summer Sky’ and ‘Someplace Where Love Can’t Find Me’ maintain the standard of quality; even if they don’t sound as effortless as his early work, they’re well crafted all the same.

Simply, This Is Easy is a collection of great guitar pop, performed with musical deftness and sweetness, and if you want to hear music that’s unabashedly hooky yet hasn’t been played to death on radio, here’s your chance to hear 22 great underexposed songs all in one package.

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