Yeah, no Radiohead feature today. While I love the band and the new album to death, there is no point in covering something when virtually every site is writing the same thing. Maybe a review will come in the coming month but, in the mean time, perhaps we can try something else for a bit…
While it is pointless to attempt unless under dire circumstances, there are a number of ways to judge a band prematurely before even listening to them. The two most obvious methods are based around two aspects of the respected band: their name and appearance. For example, if you saw a press photo of a group dressed in black and adorned with satanic tattoos, I doubt many would hold the belief that they were performers of glamorized twee-pop. Though it would not prove to be as accurate, a name can also imply a certain degree of stylistic leverage. After all, everyone expects a group calling themselves Boyz n da Hood to rap, not play death-metal. However, some acts have wrongfully deceived me with a name that is not as stylistically reflective. Probably the most glaring would be Say Hi To Your Mom. For several years, though I had never heard a bad thing about them, I avoided the Brooklyn-based trio based just on their name alone. While I know it sounds pathetic and somewhat immature, I pictured their music as some indie take on snarling emo pop-punk due to a name that just did not personally resonate with me very well. Man, was I proved wrong.
When I first heard Say Hi To Your Mom a few weeks ago it was on the sheer recommendation of a friend. Considering that he had recommended me one or two other quality bands before, I decided to give it a shot. Not knowing where to start, I gave their 2002 debut, Discosadness, a chance. Instead of stumbling on some obnoxious band , I found it to be a rewarding experience with plenty of pop hooks stemming from a simplistic but remarkably progressive style of indie-pop. While their advanced structural achievements likely made their DIY tag a bit overbearing, the airy production gave the album a somewhat more intimate feel than the majority of albums I had heard lately. Though they improved on the sound in later years, the potential was certainly there. Over the next four years they released an album every year apart from 2004. Those taking a glance at their discography should notice a bit of a playful tinge to their album names; Numbers & Mumbles, Ferocious Mopes, and Impeccable Blahs are all, well, pretty fun to say out loud. While their album names sound more like a Dr. Seuss book than anything, they have improved upon each release since Discosadness. While Say Hi To Your Mom was originally the solo project of Eric Elbogen for their first three albums, 2006 saw a rush of changes for the better. When keyboardist Jeff Sheinkopf and Chris Egan III joined Elbogen as official members for the release of Impeccable Blahs, they offered a generous new sound that saw Say Hi To Your Mom’s sound expand in instrumentation, production, melodic irresistibility, and generally much of what one could hope for from an aspiring band.
To keep in adjustment with their steady rate of improvement, their latest album, The Wishes and the Glitch, may put the band on heavy expectations from the fans who have been listening for nearly 6 years. Fortunately, I find the pattern to still be in tact. Unless I tire of it quickly, this is so far my favorite album from Say Hi To Your Mom. But that is not all – even better, they changed their previously embarrassing name from Say Hi To Your Mom to simply Say Hi. Simple, concise, effective… I like it. Though their name has changed and their new album does not subtly rhyme like past releases, old fans can still expect the same out of Say Hi: effectively catchy indie-pop with a lovable soft spot for throwback power-pop. For a bit of a reminder, the opening “Northwestern Girls” does appropriate justice. While I would not call it long-awaited since Say Hi releases an album every year or so, it certainly quenches a thirst for a form of immediately accessible form of indie-pop that some would dare to call “adorable”. With an attenuated but crafty synth underlying quick guitar strums and leading keyboard melody, the song is simplistically catchy enough to serve as a graceful opener. Elbogen builds an audible progression throughout the song that increases and waivers in intensity as the instrumentation picks up, an approach that would fall flat on its face for repetitiveness if not for the band’s knack to bring out the best of intelligible hooks.
Since, as a music site, we are nearly forced to mention Radiohead in some form on this specific day, I suppose comparing Elbogen’s vocals to Thom Yorke on the characteristically titled “Oboes Bleat and Triangles Tink” would be satisfying enough. The structure is somewhat comparable to “Northwestern Girls”; we find a melody largely led by a keyboard in which backing synths are accompanied by the faint strains of acoustic instruments and subdued percussion. When a bellowing synth line caps off the song, it begs for another listen. Give it another 2 or 3 -it will lead to another seven or eight. I am sure we can debate as to what the title of “Magic Beans and Truth Machines” can elude to, but regardless, it contains arguably the most memorable chorus on The Wishes and the Glitch. As pathetic as it sounds, this is the type of song you put on a mix tape for a girl who considers platonic relationships to be fulfilling enough, even if you think otherwise. With a desperately romantic plea summarized in an infectious manner in just over 2 minutes, it offers little disappointment. “Please, please, someone come and take it away from me,” Elbogen sings, similar in lyrical desperation to The Smiths’ memorable ode of a similar nature, “Please, please, it’s all yours.” All romantic desperation aside, this is an enjoyable effort that shows that, regardless of what people think, it may occasionally be damaging to judge a band merely on its name. If you are in a rush, stick to superficial appearances.