SIR SLY – Don’t You Worry Honey
THE GOOD: Los Angeles indie pop trio Sir Sly comes back with their second.
THE BAD: Did the band dodge the sophomore slump? Perhaps, but they also made a record VERY SIMILAR to 2014’s “You Haunt Me.”
THE NITTY GRITTY: But what could we expect? Sir Sly is yet another generic rock/electronic hybrid churning out “safe” stuff for movie trailers aimed at teens, video game soundtracks, and commercial alternative radio stations too damn complacent to take a chance on anything genuinely innovative.
Joywave. Saint Motel. X Ambassadors. Sir Sly. It’s all the same musical twaddle. A melody grabs you here; a beat pushes you there. But nothing sticks. “Honey” could be a decent jogging record or i-Phone album for those long subway commutes (oh wait — we don’t do that here in NEPA). Other than that though, the set just gets lost in the Spotify shuffle.
BUY IT? Download if you must. But skipping it altogether won’t leave a gaping hole in any collection or playlist.
THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART – The Echo of Pleasure
THE GOOD: New York indie pop outfit PBPH come back with a mature fourth.
THE BAD: No gripes.
THE NITTY GRITTY: PBPH is essentially a Kip Berman solo outing on this record. He’s getting older; his life in transition. Berman is now married with a kid. The songwriting and spirit of the whole affair reflects these changes.
Still, “Pleasure” remains another sparkling ’80s throwback from a guy who knows how to crank out a satisfying bouncy pop song. This time though, the arrangements are more complex; layered keyboards and neon guitars weaving their way in and out of the mix. In strict retro terms, it’s less Depeche Mode and more Psychedelic Furs.
Everything clicks from the swirling “My Only” to the energetic “When I Dance with You.” Female vocalist/keyboardist Jen Goma helps out on harmonies again. When she takes the lead on “So True,” one hears echoes of New Order side project the Other Two. Good stuff all around.
BUY IT?: Yes.
TORO Y MOI – Boo Boo
THE GOOD: Singer/songwriter/producer Chaz Bear (stage name Toro Y Moi) offers up his fifth.
THE BAD: “Boo Boo” is another “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” record. The entire affair (especially the first half) flows amazingly well; the individual pieces complementing each other perfectly. Separate the songs though and some can’t stand on their own.
THE NITTY GRITTY: “Boo Boo” is less “chill” and more indie pop. Bear continues to gain confidence as a frontman and has further embraced traditional song structures. Tracks like the easy-going melancholy funk jam “Mirage” and the cozy rhythmic sunshine that is “Girl like You” feel effortless; music made for spur-of-the-moment carefree Saturday afternoons. And as the sun sets, we sway to the swirling yearning spread over “You and I.”
“Boo Boo” finds that balance between the ambient and the focused. The music wraps around the listener like a warm blanket yet always maintains that all-important groove.
BUY IT?: Your call.