L.A. quartet Bebopalula don’t call themselves a band, but a songwriting collective — four guys with solid bona fides whose music is rooted in, but certainly not constrained by, tradition. Sixties guys at heart, they stretch the boundaries of what history has pigeonholed as power-pop, adding their own paisley flourishes with skill, precision and no small amount of (what some would call impish) enthusiasm.
“Coloring Book,” the first single from the quartet’s long-in-the-works debut album, puts the bop in Bebopalula (yes, the name comes from the 1956 Gene Vincent hit). A suite in three tidy minutes, it does for power-pop what Queen did for arena rock, bursting with freewheeling musicality and childlike glee. While the album as a whole will find a place in the hearts of fans of luminaries such as Harry Nilsson and Jellyfish, “Coloring Book,” with its twinkling Mellotron, remarkable harmonies and strings and horns, is the sound of ace players loosening their limbs and lungs.
The song is the first from the foursome of Chris Price, Emeen Zarookian, Alex Jules and Ben Lecourt since their limited-release EP in 2016. Bebopalula, down to four members from five after the departure of Price’s brother Corey Perez (who moved back to his native Florida to work on other projects), worked on the album around other responsibilities, and there are many.
Price, once of the sibling band Price that was signed to Geffen, has released three solo albums, the last in 2018, produced comeback albums for Emitt Rhodes and Linda Perhacs and worked with Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Jeffrey Gaines and Val McCallum, among others. Jules, who last year released the solo album “Topiary,” is touring keyboardist for the Monkees, Denny Laine (Wings, The Moody Blues) and Badfinger. Lecourt also tours with Laine and Badfinger, along with working with the likes of Mark Stoermer (The Killers), Linda Perry and Pete Molinari. Zarookian has a catalog of music released as Spirit Kid, along with various studio and live work with the likes of Badfinger, Eli “Paperboy” Reed and the Explorers Club.
Featuring songs from all four principals, the album was made at Fernando Perdomo’s Reseda Ranch Studios and at the attic studio Zarookian shares with Lucius’ Dan Molad. It was mastered by Bruce Weeden and features contributions from stalwart multi-instrumentalist Probyn Gregory (The Wondermints, Brian Wilson), string player Kaitlin Wolfberg and Perez.
The video for “Coloring Book,” made during a couple romps through local studios, is the work of Kyle Safieh and the first of four videos planned for the album release (each principal songwriter gets a video). And, yes, that’s none other than Neil Hamburger giving Bebopalula the introduction they deserve.
Tentative release date for the album is April 20.
||| Watch: The video for “Coloring Book”
||| Previously: Ears Wide Open