Sometimes it seems as if the world is just so full of evil, awful things that it can put you into an eternal funk. Pop music isn’t always a help, itself full of unrequited love, betrayal, depression and sadness. You might be surprised, as I was, to know that one of the sunniest pop bands around is inaptly, or ironically, named Dolour. The band is from my newly adopted hometown of Seattle and their style of pop is straight out of either the California of the sixties or Glasgow of the eighties and nineties. Their third full-length album, New Old Friends came out quietly in 2004, but thankfully it caught my eye recently.
“Cheer Up Baby” is possibly one of the best pure pop numbers I’ve heard in years and could, if given a spot on a comedy soundtrack, become the next “There She Goes.” The shiny saxophone sound lends a little bit of Motown cred to the whole thing and takes it beyond the level of `small label band.’ The song is actually about having to record songs in the studio for their last record rather than spending time with his lady, so there’s a hint of bitterness and irony in the lyrics, but the music is true bubblegum joy.
Other songs fill the bill in the happy pop category, but these songs are not anywhere near the catastrophe as say, “Shiny Happy People.” These are tight, accomplished and thoughtful songs that could put a smile on your iPod. Most of the songs resemble the likes of the Posies, Belle & Sebastian, the Thrills or even the Beach Boys, but “CPR” resembles disciples of the Wilsons, Weezer. The faux metal guitars are what link it so strongly to the boys Cuomo, as well as the taut lyrics with tongue in cheek metaphors.
There is really one guy behind Dolour and that is Shane Tutmarc. Whereas there are actually other band members, it is Tutmarc who writes, produces and arranges the work of Dolour. Someday soon, this Seattle band will finally break out of the `local’ scene and be recognized for the short pop masterpieces they create, but until then, we get to claim them as our own.
Belle & Sebastian- Dear Catastrophe Waitress
The Thrills- So Much For the City