Pete Townshend coined the term “power pop” in the 1960s to describe The Who, but the phrase was forgotten for more than a decade. In the late ’70s, rock critics began applying the pithy phrase to Big Star, The Plimsouls, The Last—bands recovering the endangered verities of mid-’60s rock in three-minute testimonials to melody and harmony, two guitars, bass and drums.
Power pop never produced another Beatles but has survived as a handy marketing label for a genre of melodic rock. When one such band, Material Issue, recorded a song called “International Pop Overthrow” in the early ’90s, they intended it as an anthem for the music they loved . . .