Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
Let It Sway
Polyvinyl Record Co.
After listening to a slough of dark, moody, somber albums this summer — and loving them (especially The National’s High Violet and Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs) — I took a little time adjusting to the bright, jangly, super-happy frenzy sound of Let It Sway, the new release by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (hands down, best band name in a long while).
With a name like that I expected clever, cheeky, and well-turned tunes, but the songs here are pop perfection, like funnel cakes at a late summer county fair or billowing cotton candy, but washed down with whiskey or beer.
Produced by Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie at the legendary Smart Studios in Madison, WI (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins), along with in-house producer Beau Sorenson, the 12 songs here bop along at a brisk pace, with chunky power chords and bouncy bass riffs, super-tight drumming, and creative keyboard and synthesizers supporting shimmering vocals. No lack in production values here.
“Banned (By The Man)” is a good example of how Walla and Sorenson mix grit with sugar and make sweet but crunchy music, with its fuzz-drenched guitars and la-la chorus. That song is followed by “In Pairs,” a bouncing ska beat that will have you dancing in your seat with its refrain, “Not all of God’s creatures come in pairs, you know.”
“In Pairs” segues straight into “My Terrible Personality.” With its menacing “I can’t believe you haven’t killed me yet” and “It’s got to hurt to see someone as dumb as me,” you get the picture that this is a rocky relationship under the microscope.
“Everlyn” is another bright number with its frantic guitar solos squealing off the frets. “All Hail Dracula!” is an absolute hoot with its mash-up of dirty punk guitar and Gary Numan-like synthesizers. That number lurches right into the solid raveup, “Critical Drain,” with “Animalkind” right on its heels.
The album finds time to slow down in one or two places, such as the quiet piano and rainfall of “Stuart Gets Lost dans le Metro” and “Phantomwise,” which is one of those mid-tempo droning dirges that Rivers Cuomo of Weezer used to like to churn out every now and then. Even the plaintive cry “You can’t have me back now and then,” echoes Cuomo before the last line, “She’s mine, she’s mine tonight,” before fading out into a bom-bom chorus right out of the old ’60s chestnut, “Cherish.”
The closer “Made to Last” has a chugging marshal beat over tender guitars and a very echoey Phil Spector kind of sound that lets you know that summer’s end is drawing near, time to grab the pencils and books, give that summer lover one last kiss because, as the singer says, “Nothing is made to last these days.”