Pleasant is a word that is generally a good thing. A pleasant country walk. A pleasant dinner. A pleasant night’s sleep. Bands however rarely want to be pleasant. Gritty, abrasive, heavy and heady. Not pleasant. But this is exactly what new album Fly By Wire from the Missouri band Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is. It’s nice, and an enjoyable listen, but doesn’t grab you by the balls, hold you by the throat and force you to listen.
Out now on Polyvinyl records, and full of easy breeziy, intricate energy, for the most part the album meanders smoothly along. Harrison Ford isn’t the most immediate entry to an album, gentle shimmers building up, but Young Presidents and its lyrical and literal stop/go formula will be a sunny staple (would the sun ever come over come out).
Ms. Dot is one of the more powerful slow tunes on the album, layers of detailed vocals building to a gentle crescendo over ticking drums. Loretta is a retro looping tune that reminds of The Boy Least Like Likely To. They have enough vintage influences and actualities to be genuine, as well as appealing to the current fashion for chilled sixties vibes, although the fact that they have been kicking around since 1999 (when Will Knauer and Philip Dickey met at a party, before being joined by John Robert Cardwell in 2002 at college) abates any concerns that their style is a fleeting fancy. Unearth sees the introduction of more electro bass grooves that elevate it from a saccharine sweet tune to a jangly pop song of the best kind.
Full of cultural references (‘discussions with the Russians,’ ‘we could play Cinnamon Girl’) and overused tropes (the sun streams through your hair) it is lyrically accessible rather than ever causing a furrowed brow. If they weren’t Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin but a new band bubbling up this would be more of a problem than it is in this case.
What is lacking on Fly By Wire is that knockout punch, as other than Nightwater Girlfriend there is no tune to make you scream, or at the very least not describe it as pleasant, but powerful. Somewhere in the world there is a need for summer spangly tunes, but at the moment they aren’t doing it here. Shame, because it sounds so niiice.