Julian Leal – Julian Leal (Hozac)

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Hozac Records have a pretty bulletproof track record for selecting the right music to reissue, but I’m struggling to find the value in this one. Julian Leal was a power-pop guy operating out the Chicago suburb of Romeoville in the mid-’80s. He released an album, had some prospects for a label deal, and even got one of his songs played on episode of American Bandstand, but superstardom never came calling for him. A few years of going nowhere was enough for Leal, and he went back to school to pursue a more stable career. The album he put out during his commercial push – this one – is firmly planted in the power-pop genre, all the way down to the full-bodied poof of Leal’s “ice hockey haircut”. If you squint your ears hard enough Leal (who played everything on the album other than the drums, and originally put it out in a run of 1,500 on his own label) kind of sounds like a 1980s version of Cheap Trick or Elvis Costello and The Attractions. But let’s call it like it really is. Leal’s songs are saccharine pop, his lyrics are devoid of any meaning, and the guitar and synth tones may have been cutting edge in 1985, but today they just sound cheesy and dated. Even worse, his voice is grating and there’s pretty much no variation from song to song – it’s all just one long sucky delivery system for sugary choruses.