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Pants Yell!
Songs For Siblings (CD)

30 years from now, when you are a bit older and perhaps a bit grayer, you will be standing precariously at the top of a stepladder in the hallway reaching into a top closet for that big box of CDs that has sat undisturbed for decades. After blowing the dustballs off the top of said box, you'll reach inside and rummage through stacks of old compact discs wondering whatever possesed you in your youth to collect them. You'll pull one CD in particular out at random, maybe this CD from Pants Yell! and for jolly old time grins you'll take it to your antiquated (after all no one uses compact discs any more) CD player and feed it in. The nine songs that will come pouring nostalgically out of your speakers will remind you of your youth and your love for indie pop music; pure, simple and understated little nuggets of goodness, sometimes a bit cheesy, but always friendly and ready to wear. And a little tear may come to your eye. (Ok, you can call my agent now if you'd like the rights to this potential blockbuster film script)

I don't have that glorious time machine I've been meaning to get on the black market yet, so the above anecdote remains fictional, though entirely plausible. Boston's Pants Yell! (and mind you the exclamation point, please), with their somewhat short but nevertheless full length CD Songs For Siblings, have modestly written a really great indie cookbook for making semi-sweet chocolate pop about love, sailboats, summer heat, and pony tails. The band, comprised of Sterling Bryant, Andrew Churchman, and Carly Smith, have wisely avoided any whining and self important stance that could have been an any easy route to follow with subject material such as this. And the result is beautifuly written, sparse indiepop songs uncrowded by billions of instruments as is often the wont of similar bands. The Yell! know enough about a good thing not to smother it.

Some of the most alluring songs on the album are the folkier ones featuring mainly sparkling acoustic guitar and voice like the beginning of "Go Big Blue" and "Pony Tales". Then, at times a bit of unabashed twee happiness leaks through such as on "Bi-Coastal Serenade". Or on "Onward Sailboat" which reminds me a lot of a mellow version of Tullycraft's "Lives of Cleopatra", with its cadence of jammed together lyrics. "My Boyfriend Writes Plays", presented as a poppy lament about a prose slinging sweeheart, is both cute and poignant with lines like "All your prose, all your one act songs were never meant for me". "Public Gardens" could be an Americanized version of something written by a less orchestral Belle and Sebastian. But the Yell! never quite follow the path of self absorption that the Scottish kings of wimp sometimes revel in. Everything remains pretty much open.

One of my favorite songs actually appears different in feel from the rest. "Directions, Directions" is set up like a beautifully drony American Analog Set song, only the organ chords often move in circles rather than layers and of course the vocals are presented in a different manner. As far as vocals go, Andrew in particular should get props for his singing style which is lackadaisical enough to be Malkmus-like in feel, but at the same time contains a hint of tender warmth behind all that non-emotion. In this case it's entirely possible that distance doth equal devotion; the vocals have that aural knack for being your close friend while not getting in your face when you need space. But if I had only one request of the band for future albums, it would be that I'd like to hear a few more songs that also feature Carly's vocals in the mix because that male/female combo vocal sounds great on the few songs that do feature it. As far as the playing of instruments is concerned, sure it's a bit ramshackle at times though never sloppy. But that non-linearity, like that employed by so many great indiepop bands, only adds to the flavor and texture of the songs. Use of the organ is particularly touching at times, maybe sounding a bit like The Aislers Set.

I think I've spoken enough about the merits of this album, so now all that's left for you to do is to fall in love with your own copy of the songs, so that you can one far off day play through my opening scenario by taking your copy of Pants Yell! down out of a box, putting it on your antiquated CD player and having it remind you of all the good indie music you've listened to in your life. And call my agent if that does happen to you.

- review by BY (9.4.04)        

Asaurus Records
PO Box 0664
Allen Park, MI 48101-0664

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