Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Let it Sway

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
Let it Sway

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin creates tantric pop. They are able to identify that climactic moment in a pop song, that fleeting micro-second that saves pop music from the over saturation by the Biebers in the world. Upon identifying it, though, they exploit it. They dissect that one instant into minutes. Stretching it out over repeating riffs and building handclaps they let us experience that perfect moment for longer than we ought to. And it feels pretty good. 

Let it Sway is the third release from Springfield, MO pop quartet Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. They recruited heavy-weight Chris Walla (of Death Cab For Cutie) to help with the production and mixing, and though Walla's influence is definitely noticeable in the album's aesthetic, the arrangements of the tracks shows a return to the patience that gave Broom, the band's first release, its rich texture.

I'm always impressed with SSLYBY's comfort and self-confidence. They seem OK with being a pop group. With any other group, this may equate to an eventual staleness, or at least a plateau, but SSLYBY is able to thrive in the space they've created for themselves because their songs are rides. They know that the strength of their songs comes in the arrangements- and while the expertise of a good producer or mixer can help- unless their arrangements are interesting and captivating no amount of Pro Tools is going to help. 

In Broom the rides were slow, piping, wooden structures with tedious build ups and slow releases (I'm thinking of, "I am Warm and Powerful"). In Let it Sway the rides are much more chaotic. There are peaks and valleys- songs will burst into a flury of punchy guitars and fall just as sharply into a quiet breakdown and acoustic guitar. This dynamic is the salvation that pop bands  need, and the push pull (Sink/Sway?) that SSLYBY creates is instrumental to this albums success. 

Its immediately evident that they're more comfortable opening things up a bit with their sound as well. "All Hail Dracula!" opens with drone worthy of A Ghost is Born. "In Pairs," has a menacing pair of its voice as a second vocal track harasses the first in a mocking echo. The seamless transition into, "My Terrible Personality" is masterfully pulled off. Their ability to tweak the periphery of their songs without damaging its core shows a maturity that was unfortunately absent for parts of Pershing

The best moment in Pershing, though, was the last track, 'Heers.' It was a huge step for the band, and again on Let it Sway the closer is truly a beautiful moment. In a simplicity that both inspires and awakens: "Nothing's made to last these days, But I'm gonna be by you until my last day." It's neither blissfully unaware and oversimplified, nor is it annoyingly hyper-literate. It just is. 

Lyrically, the album demonstrates a self-confidence. As a band, SSLYBY thinks that their time has come, "I just wanna show you what I know, I know its right." They don't want to be the sole providers in this game anymore, "When you gonna shake off those new legs? I need you to be strong." SSLYBY has given a lot. If there is any word that doesn't describe the band, it's, 'lazy.' They've shown that they care immensely about every moment on their album, and they think that you should too. Can you blame them?

-Igor German


Caroline said...

i am the only person on the planet i guess that liked pershing more than broom, but they just do pop so well there even if it is polished. pershing was so accessible, and this new one was the opposite of that. its almost like their albums should have come out in this order: let it sway, pershing, broom. this just feels not cohesive, not super impressive. boo.

Scott said...

As someone who loved Broom from top to bottom, I think SSLYBY polished themselves up way too much on Pershing, hoping to really break through. "Heers" was great, but one of only a couple album highlights. Having not listened to Let It Sway, I'm very encouraged by what I've heard, as well as your impressions, Igs. I just wanna another perfect adolescent pop gem like "Oregon Girl"! Please?

Kev said...

eh...I think you may be disappointed if you hold this one up against broom. its apples to oranges really. But, i think everylyn is the closest thing to Oregon Girl

Milos said...

Nice iggy. Solid review, you hit the nail on the head. Let It Sway is a terrific album.

Ben said...

Hate to say it, but I give up on this band. I love love Loved Broom, and still do, but the super polished sound they seem to want has really killed them. I think a lot of what they had going for them was a kind of gentle intimacy that came with their first batch of songs (it was recorded in an attic, for crying out loud), in addition to the fact that they wrote pretty great melodies.

Pershing, on the other hand, blew for the reasons Scott mentioned. There was too much polish and too few memorable hooks. Unfortunately the new album feels equally forgettable for me, and the band has gone from being a quirky and smart pop band to just another pop band. At worst, there were times I felt like I was listening to the Jo Bros backed by late period Weezer.

I was really hoping the sound they pushed on Pershing would be the exception and not the rule, but I don't think that's the case. To quote W, "Fool me twice - well, you can't get fooled again."