This time out, the influences are from the same era, but the beats are midtempo, and the production isn’t nearly as lofi. Although the songwriting is still highly nostalgic. Stuart McLamb’s vocals can be described as drunkenly mournful, or perhaps mournfully drunk. The compositions are squarely from the Doo-Wop and wall-of-sound era.
The choice of “Pedals” as an album opener is somewhat puzzling. It sets the tone of a much bigger-sounding, more polished album as if the band is eager to distance itself from their previous sound. Closer “This Room,” a tiny morsel of a Roy Orbison tune, might have been a more fitting choice in my book.
“Summer Dust” is one of the best tracks, and one I wish I’d come across earlier in the season (and so will you if you hear it), with its lyrics about love in the summertime that somehow don’t get mired in cliche. Credit goes, I’d say, to the vocals, which are wrapped in harmonies and sung with totally credible emotion.
Another favorite, and most up-tempo song on the album, is the more British-invasion-styled “Heart to Tell,” with its acoustic intro, and syncopated drum interludes. The lyrics, “Some fools rush in/Some fools just wait” and “You can walk all over me just don’t you walk away,” seem to come from the highest echelon of accessible pop, but in a bygone era, and you could do a lot worse than that.
If they’re taking anyone’s market share now, it’s more the Peter Bjorn and John, or Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes sound. In fact, the guitar part on “Hororphones” sounds eerily similar to the whistled part of “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John. Coincidence? Probably. And besides, when you sound this much like so many people, isn’t that a kind of originality?
Words: Mike Pearl