All Your Summer Songs (Polyvinyl) is just the sort of unassuming delight that is sure to register as nary a blip on most folks' radar screens -- even those paying close attention to recent developments in indie pop. That's okay in a way, because those inclined to devote the time will be firmly knocked out by the feeling that how others view this collection (and, by extension, this world, this existence) really doesn't matter in the least. These are your summer songs, dammit. And with them, Saturday Looks Good To Me has crafted a private reverie for those that have yet to send their inner kid to the gallows.
Detroit song force Fred Thomas (formerly of His Name is Alive), a fairly recent grad of the Brian Wilson school of pop song assemblage, is the principal architect here. His overt '60s/'70s AM radio aesthetic is wedded to a deceptively sophisticated lyrical approach that, despite its warm, deeply reverberant textures (formed using various horns, strings and keys in addition to guitar, bass and drums) and sweet, accessible sentiments, is at least as much post-punk as it is post-Spector. Lines like "Meet me by the water underneath the big beehive / Bring your record player and your Raincoats .45s" ring like Belle & amp; Sebastian on happy pills and set a tone that is far more observational than confessional. But despite its intrinsic joyfulness, the album is by no means bereft of acute melancholy or heartbreak (just check in with "The Sun Doesn't Want to Shine," "All Our Summer Songs").
There's no downtime between tracks. Songs literally crash and blur and bleed into one another with little warning, almost as if an unseen hand is off somewhere spinning a radio dial. Occasionally, the sampled and manipulated sounds that play hide and seek throughout threaten to distract from what are essentially extremely simple and elegant arrangements -- the best of which often feature nothing more than a lone instrument and the immediately likeable voice of Thomas or one of his many sidekicks (notable vocal guests include Ted Leo and Tara Jane O'Neil).
There's not a clunker in the bunch. Each song is the happy result of unpretentious yet dazzling songcraft and honest, affecting human stories. Their easy style and leisurely pace evokes past memories and decided nostalgia while gently nudging you forward into a better place.
Publication date: 08/07/03