MIKE PACE AND THE CHILD ACTORS “Smooth Sailing” (The Self-Starter Foundation)

Remember the night parties? Yeah, we were there, we did that, we lived, we loved, we chugged and ran around, and we were young then. Mike Pace did that. Mike Pace had his foot down hard on that pedal, the one that revved his rock engine through Sub Pop, etc., and then out into the middle of a metaphorical lake. Mike was in Oxford Collapse. Oxford Collapse ran its course. Mike inherited the Self-Starter Foundation from a dude named Chris Newmyer. He also willed Mike Pace and the Child Actors into existence.

There’s a weird line we can connect from the idea of “child actors” to the indie rock also-ran, or at least the indie rocker whose moderate success didn’t necessarily translate into that sustainable music cycle that we all wish it would. (To wit: my cycle petered out almost twenty years ago.) You get a modicum of positive response quickly, and then it burns out fast and weird. Still, musicians have it easier, as the fallback options are usually more palatable than “career junkie.” Plus, you don’t necessarily have a recognizable face. Indie rockers often have that going for them.

So “Smooth Sailing” is a nice return to/reinforcement of form, a jaunty rock record filled with hooks and propulsive songwriting that maybe has no right to be as upbeat and delightful as it is. I’ve conditioned myself away from “rawk,” opened myself up to more cerebral and philosophical avenues that make for better subjects for this clickety-clack nonsense I’m peddling, but Mr. Pace and his jolly and joyful band of tour rats have warmed the cockles this sad reviewer’s inner ear. I can enjoy every second of “Smooth Sailing” because of its delightful sincerity, its relentless positivity, and its unwavering energy. That’s all you can really ask from a good rock band. That’s all you want.

Former Pitchfork writer and Get Him Eat Him frontman Matt LeMay also plays quite a bit on this record. (Matt, you’ll be receiving my résumé shortly. For whatever, no biggie.)

(Check out a smidge of what the Self-Starter Foundation is releasing – it’s like an early aughts all-star team!: Les Savy Fav, Enon, Lifter Puller, Palomar, We Ragazzi, Western Keys, The Mooney Suzuki, The Detachment Kit, Clem Snide, Karate, The Honorary Title…)