The Pursuit of Happiness
Most bands dream of having a signature sound. But that ability to be immediately recognizable after only a few measures is elusive for most. The Pursuit of Happiness, a Toronto-based act that had minor success stateside with a couple of catchy singles, confirms on its retrospective Sex & Food that it indeed has a signature sound. The brainchild of frontman-guitarist Moe Berg, his consistent rhythm section, and an ever-changing lineup of female backup vocalists, the group released five records from 1988 to 1996 that seem more cutting-edge now than they did back then. Most of its tunes emphasize driving, bar-band rock riffs with Berg’s no-frills vocals/spoken word diatribes, and a chorus thick with female harmonies. As much as this is readily identifiable, so is Todd Rundgren’s sharp, layered production captured on the group’s first two records Love Junk and One Sided Story — a perfect wedlock of producer and material. The band’s biggest U.S. hits, “I’m An Adult Now” and “Cigarette Dangles,” lead off the compilation, and though they are well representative of the act’s noteworthy sound, lesser-known cuts, such as the pulverizing “Nobody But Me” and the skittish “Ten Fingers,” are even stronger. Like most “best of” discs, there are a few B-sides and demo cuts that are more filler than treasure, but even these tunes are unmistakable in their artistic origin.