Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin remains lo-fi
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 03:09
Despite their attention-seeking name — and apparent lack of hipster fandom — Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (SSLYBY) has proven with the release of their new album “Fly By Wire” that they can consistently produce catchy, well-crafted and easy-to-love songs. Since independently releasing its first album “Broom” in 2005, SSLYBY has always inhabited a comfortable niche: soft, feel-good indie pop songs littered with nostalgic references and characterized by surprisingly unique progressions. Unfortunately for the group, this niche hasn’t inspired any kind of forward motion or musical development. Whether or not that kind of growth is necessary seems like a moot question in the face of this charming new release.
The seeds of SSLYBY were sown in Springfield, Miss., the city that most of the band members call home. Drawing the inspiration for its name from the first president of Russia, SSLYBY is known for its optimistic musical style. After its debut album, the band gained some critical acclaim and subsequently signed with Polyvinyl Records in 2006. Retaining its musical identity and charisma, the band produced its second album “Perishing” in 2008 and its third “Let it Sway” in 2010.
SSLYBY will sound very familiar to fans of The Shins, Youth Lagoon and Nada Surf. The band incorporates the droning wistfulness of these groups. However, SSLYBY adds something else: a layer of hopeful intuition and suggestion. Going beyond its contemporary indie darlings with tracks that hearken back to the sounds of Elvis Costello and Weezer, SSLYBY distinguishes itself in a genre that often feels muddled with unimaginative carbon copies.
On its newest album, SSLYBY forays into musical territory that remains, as of yet, largely untapped. Incorporating some shiny synth beats and powerful funk guitar licks, it is clear that the band has no problem showcasing their musical prowess and curiosity. Yet, whether or not this curiosity translates into something more than basic experimentation remains unclear.
In “Fly By Wire,” the band manages to create some truly magnetic tracks, including the notable and ethereal “Harrison Ford.” This track includes surprising chord progressions and clever percussion work that drives the song slowly, but surely, forward. As the album opener, “Harrison Ford” sets the tone for the rest of “Fly By Wire.” The song is almost a throwback to the lo-fi tracks that catapulted SSLYBY from indie anonymity to a major label band.
Later, the song “Young Presidents” has all the makings of a serene and relaxing hipster anthem peppered with “oohs,” “aahs,” the well placed synthetic clap and the occasional exclamation of “Stop ... go!” The band seems to have approached the creation of its music methodologically; no song on the album sounds quite the same, each adding to the aesthetic experience of the whole.
The best song on the album is easily “Nightwater Girlfriend.” Initially sounding vaguely like pop-punk productions of the late ‘80s, “Nightwater Girlfriend” quickly turns into a powerful and supremely interesting song. Part Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and part Blink-182’s “All The Small Things,” the song blends two distinct genres into one infectious song. It forces listeners to think about the people they loved from afar in high school but never really met. Too specific? Listen for yourself.
SSLYBY has never failed to produce music that is compelling and lovable. However, the band has yet to produce an album, or even a single, that transcends their current niche. For a band with so much musical inventiveness and potential, this lack of growth is disappointing. Regardless, if you find yourself asking, “Is it worth it to listen to this band?” for Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, the answer is always “yes.”