In Space

The original Big Star — Alex Chilton, Jody Stephens, Andy Hummel and Chris Bell — achieved its power-pop perfection when no one else was looking, on 1972's wishfully titled #1 Record and 1974's Bell-less Radio City. The reunited Big Star — Chilton and Stephens, with Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of the Posies — have the weird fortune of releasing their debut album to a world expecting that American Beatles ideal all over again. It's here — in the jangly longing and ice-wall harmonies of "Lady Sweet" and "February's Quiet" — but comes with the eccentric R&B and demo-quality glam rock that have made Chilton's solo records a mixed blessing. The funk pastiche "Love Revolution" should have been an outtake; "A Whole New Thing" starts out like old T. Rex, then goes nowhere special. But on either side of those potholes are the rough sunshine of "Best Chance We've Ever Had," the Beach Boys-via-Revolver paraphrase "Turn My Back on the Sun" and a Motown-punk treatment of the 1962 Bruce Channel nugget "Mine Exclusively." In Space is no #1 Record, but at its brightest, it is Big Star in every way.

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