WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2007 |
You may not want to pick up Saturday Looks Good To Me's newest album Fill Up The Room (K Records) if: you're deathly allergic to catchy melodies, you think the world could do with a little more death metal on the radio, or you hate bands fronted by quirky, multi-talented musicians. If none of this applies to you, read on.
On this, their first release on K Records, Fred Thomas and co. make no apologies for their breezy, textured pop songs. From the album opener “Apple,” which sounds like a particularly lo-fi 50s prom theme to the eerie closing track “Whitey Hands,” SLGTM showcases their unconventional take on the harmonies we've all grown so familiar with.
Two of the best moments on the album come toward the end. “Edison Girls” is a lovely hand-clapper of a song that's just begging for a hazy summer evening, even though a quick glance at the liner notes reveal images of broken light bulbs at the bottom of swimming pools and the like. Immediately following is “Hands In The Snow,” a shuffly ode to a relationship's end, which includes the line (I actually laughed out loud when I heard it): “I watch you drink invisible ink/so I won't know when you swallow your words.” Also notable is the unexpected use of strings; the violin and cello provide a nice chamber-pop quality to Betty Marie Barnes' vocals.
There are definitely moments on this record where the listener might imagine he or she is listening to a different artist entirely. Thomas can channel Stephen Merritt with the best of them and quite a few tracks owe at least a little something to the whole 60s pop aesthetic. During the intro of “When I Lose My Eyes,” I remember thinking that it could have come straight off Automatic For The People, while “Peg” (one of the weaker tracks, honestly) is a Buddy Holly B-side come to life.
However, SLGTM is anything but derivative. Thomas fills his songs with surreal images that are that much more surprising for being layered on top of such generally upbeat harmonies. Populating the album with jaws full of saw-teeth, muttering birds, and children “screaming speeches into microscopic tape recorders,” he has assured that every track will get at least two listens.
Which brings us back to why you will want to pick up Fill Up The Room: you appreciate a well-utilized glockenspiel, or you're always wishing for summer, you've got room in your collection for an album that's not afraid to be shiny AND thought-provoking at the same time. - Claire Orpeza