Monday, May 3, 2010

Animal Names - 'Let It Been'

While I prefer physical releases, I can’t blame indie label Boat Dreams From the Hill for going digital only on Animal Names’ sophomore effort Let It Been. It’s a good album, reminiscent of the Good Year, early Cardigans, Venice is Sinking and like half of the bands on Saddle Creek. But the band behind it broke up back in March. Might as well cut costs.

Folks should still check out the record, though. The male/female dual vocals recall Straylight Run, except with more rockitude. The band pumps some pep into numbers like the synth-rocker “Lookout! Records Tryout,” even if the joke in the title is too soon. While the group falls under the indie rock banner, there are flourishes that lean ever so slightly towards punk. Sometimes Melissa Gregerson sounds like Lauren Measure of the Measure [SA]; sometimes Chris Van der laan takes on a pop punk whine remniscient of Lagwagon’s Joey Cape. It’s contemporary indie pop for punks, or maybe it’s punk for hipsters. Either way it’s Canadian.

The lyrics might be a hurtle for some folks, though. There are clunkers spread around (“I don’t get internal rhymes”? Songs about Santa Claus? Are you high?), and some are just too obviously taken from other songs. “99 Luft Einkaufstasche / Santa’s Bday” borrows a line from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Our House,” while “Jawbroken” knicks the chorus from the Beatles’ “She Loves You.” Sure it sounds good, but c’mon now. If you’re gonna steal, go obscure. Don’t repeat one of the most famous songs from one of the most famous rock groups of all time and expect applause for it. That’s just sloppy. More successful is the Sound of Music-referencing “(Where is My) Space Puppy?”, both because it incorporates “Do-Re-Mi” more smoothly and because the title is tops.

Word on the street is four-fifths of Animal Names’ members will be continuing on under a different name, so I hope these songs don’t fade away too soon. Let It Been is a fine blend of indie pop hooks and punky guitars, a fun, rocking collection that’s perfect for the summer months.

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