Call it Toto’s Law: A supergroup’s charm is inversely proportional to the fame of the supposedly “super” members. When session players from Steely Dan, Sonny & Cher and Boz Scaggs hooked up, nobody expected much. Which made “Africa” much more easily enjoyable cheese than, say, two main dudes from New Order and the Smiths making snoozy adult pop in Electronic.
In other words, we’re talking about lowered expectations. And one doesn’t get much less promise on paper than Operation Aloha—members of Maroon 5, Phantom Planet and Gomez casually mucking about while on vacation in Maui. With little more than acoustic plucking, beer-bottle-and-dry-beans hand percussion and breezy ooohing and aaahing, the tourists have effortlessly topped their day jobs. And not just because the tune’s about stealing pills from Grandma. Gomez’s Ian Ball gently sings, “Let’s go shopping for drugs / That’ll keep a three-ring elephant tranquilized.” Clearly, the band scored. “Pharmacy” is comfortably recumbent as fuck.