On the recently reissued Treble in Trouble EP (originally released on Ace Fu in 2000), Ted Leo is seen making his way back into the familiar arms of a rock band, with impressive and hard-hitting results. After the boom-boxing and dub explorations on Tej Leo/Rx Pharmacists, released by Gern Blandstern in 1999, Leo set forth on the course that would define his solo career: edgy, raw, and emotive music that is reminiscent of his politically conscious lyrics and his previous outfit, D.C.’s late-’90s mod-revivalist Chisel. Like his work with Chisel, as well as with Animal Crackers and Citizen’s Arrest, Leo’s solo work has not graced the ears of enough people, nor has it gotten the respect deserved. The reissue of Treble in Trouble is just a reminder that it should.
In the opening track “Abner Louima v. Gov. Pete Wilson,” police brutality is discussed and dispensed in a refreshing manner. You’ll be just as likely to be up in arms over injustices as you will be too tap your feet to the infectious music, which is something that Leo keeps at a constant over this release’s duration.
“Come Baby Come” and “The 11th” hint at what is to come on Leo’s following two solo albums. The bouncy melodies might have you calling a surgeon to remove them from your head (but who would want to do that?) and is the closest that Leo has come to the mod-punk of Chisel.
Perhaps Leo’s best moment, “Treble in Trouble” adds a bit of experimentation to the mix while staying true to the pop melodies that he has an obvious gift for. The tune thrives on its melodies and there’s a good chance that you’ll become addicted to it, but it’s better than being hooked on smack.
In the years following this EP, Teddy will release two albums that thrive on the melodies that more than likely bounce around his brain on a regular basis, while receiving heaps of critical praise for it. Please believe the hype, because Leo is one of the finest songwriters in the scene today.
– Reissued 07 15 03; originally released 09 26 00