‘Footdown’ is the fifth track on Michael Penn’s fourth album, 2000’s MP4: Days Since a Lost Time Accident. And it marks the very moment when he went from one of my favorite artists to an afterthought.
That’s a lot to hang on one song, I know.
Penn’s first three albums were brilliant. 1989’s March was a glistening pop debut, featuring his only true hit (‘No Myth’) and nine other songs even better than that one. In ’92, he avoided the sophomore slump with Free-For-All, an even deeper and more rewarding record. And ’97’s Resigned continued the winning streak.
Michael Penn is a less prolific, more Beatles-influenced version of Ron Sexsmith, whom I wrote about last week.
Like Sexsmith, Penn is as consistent as the sunrise — quality-wise — when it comes to delivering his brand of polished power pop.
But unlike Sexsmith, who reliably releases albums every couple of years or more, Penn is prone to long hiatuses.
Michael Penn waited only three years to put out his fourth album, 2000’s MP4 (Days Since a Lost Time Accident). And I hate to be redundant, but it’s another winner along the same lines of the three winners before it.
If there’s a criticism to be made of Penn, I suppose it would be that he doesn’t cover much new ground. He’s been crafting the same brand of smart pop music for 20 years now. But when the results are this good, I find it hard to paint that as a negative.