Baby Scream is the baby of Argentinian singer/guitarist Juan Pablo Mazzola who composes Beatles/Big Star/ Badfinger- influenced power pop in English with help from drummer Claudio Salas and a wide cast of guest-stars, including ex-Jellyfish guitarist—and current cult legend—Eric Dover. Melodically, the resulting album and performances owe a lot to Mazzola's heroes, leaning closest to John Lennon's Imagine and Double Fantasy eras.
Not surprisingly, none of Baby Scream' 10 songs—and four bonus cuts—offer anything nearly as exciting and brilliant as John Lennon's material. Or Jellyfish's for that matter. Furthermore, there are several factors that keep Mazzola from being able to truly compete with any prominent artist from 2013. Perhaps, the biggest problem is that Mazzola doesn't have a $250,000 budget—or an expert producer— to make a terrificly produced album. This is the album's biggest weakness in terms of listenability. In short, there is a cheap wash limiting the song's dynamics and undermining what must have been considerable effort in arranging and theorizing the material. Can we fault the artist for this? Obviously not. He is doing the best that he can with the instruments, pre-amps and software he has available. Even though he has a song called "lazy," lazy is one thing Mazzola is not. Let's just say, you'll appreciate his efforts more if you treat them as demos.
Now, let's talk about things Baby Scream can control, which is the quality of the actual songwriting. If we gave each song a rating of "unacceptably bad" to "damn good" and mixed them all together in a jar, the resulting concoction would be "okay." By far, the most inconsistent tracks are the medium-speed, lead guitar rockers. "Exile," "Jekyll & Hyde" and "What About You" are unmemorable and absolutely indistinguishable from one another.
But Mazzola does have a little "something-something" going on a few songs. His biggest strength is writing sometimes-slow/always-sensitive ballads. "Nipone," for example, is a glorious song similar to John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy." A song this effective can (and does) withstand a so-so production quality. Here, Mazzola plays a very effective, chiming acoustic guitar riff, backed by a slightly-heavenly instrumental background, and his most tender vocal performance. It proves that when this guy is inspired, he can make something quite enjoyable.
The following track, "Lazy," is Baby Scream's second best song. Again, it works well because it is another break from the mediocre rockers that make up the majority of the album. Here, Mazzola actually pens and arranges a fun, stripped-down rock song, complete with a lovely, somewhat ironic, lounge opening, made from a salad of jazz chords, piano and brushes. And this song has a decent hook, too. On a Dr. Dog release, it would make a nice, little album track.
I mentioned money before and I can give a variety of excuses for the problems that the album Baby Scream certainly has. The Problem is you, the listener, don't care. As an LP, what's presented here doesn't allow for a cohesive listen. But there are several moments where everything seems to come together. It's just a shame that you are forced to dig it out. Now, if this was an EP, we'd have a totally different story. You would have something much more listenable. I wish Juan Pablo Mazzola simply gave us this:
The Baby Scream EP
2. The Ghosts Of Valerie (Feat. Eric Dover)
4. Twenty Seven
I could see myself listening to to this product at least a couple of times. And "Nipone?" I'd give that song a few more spins.
I recommend you listen to that hypothetical EP and listen to the rest if you are curious.