Reviewed by Alex Daniel.
|Rating: 6.5 of 10.|
I will say one definitive thing about Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin‘s third full-length, Let It Sway: This is some catchy shit. This is probably the catchiest shit you’ll hear out of Polyvinyl Records all year. In fact, barring the love you will ironically develop for the next Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga single, it may be the catchiest shit you hear out of anyone for the rest of the year.
These Missouri natives simply have it all—adorable, boyish voices that croon sugary “Oohs” and “Aahs” in all the right places; heart wrenching stanzas delivered with emotive, half-moaned slurs; sunny guitars with just the right amount of grit; and undeniable similarities to trendy darlings like The Shins and contemporary legends like Elliot Smith alike. Hell, there’s even a vampire song on this album. And if that’s not hot currency at the catchy bank, I don’t know what is.
But I’ll also say something less definitive about Let It Sway: As much as I love this album, and for that matter every other Boris Yeltsin album, I can’t for the life of me figure out what the band’s significance is or who they’re trying to be. You’ll probably hear glimpses of what I mean throughout the album, as the rotating cast of vocalists spews line after meaningless line of generic longing with the most sincere of emotional resolve. “This is for us, not them,” they repeatedly declare in “Stuart Gets Lost Dans Le Metro.” But I’ll be damned if you can figure out what “this” is or who “they” are.
But the problem is achingly clear by album closer “Made to Last.” There’s no question that the song is gorgeous. It rollicks through slightly muddled, stiltedly arpeggiated guitar chords. The harmonies are smoothed over with a comforting vintage sheen. The song has a melancholy, woodsy feel.
In truth, it’s… hardly a Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin Song at all. In fact, this is something ripped straight out of the Fleet Foxes‘ playbook.
Still, you should not pass Let It Sway up. If nothing else, it will be the perfect soundtrack to the remaining days of your summer. Among the most pleasing new developments in this installment of the band’s catalog is a quirky yet deftly executed twang. Songs like “My Terrible Personality” and “Critical Drain” blaze through tempos heretofore unexplored by the band, and they do so with a playful, charming country vibe. And I guarantee that you will not be able to get the acoustic Southern jangle of the breakdown in “Back in the Saddle” out of your head when the band members simultaneously chant, “If I touch you once tonight/It could turn to every time.” Kudos, too, to Death Cab’s Chris Walla for bringing back the rough-edged production tone of the band’s debut while still giving the album a thick, punching tone.
But Let It Sway probably won’t change your life. It may not even stay with you for long. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin has plenty of potential and pop-crafting ability, but if they never move past that, it won’t be a travesty. When you’ve got hooks like these, sometimes little else matters.