When Someone Still Loves You Boris Yelsin recorded their second LP, Pershing, the band almost succumbed to the pressure of recording and the overwhelming inner tension that comes with self production. For their third release, however, the band decided to enlist Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla to help with finding a skilled producer. Walla had the perfect man for the job: himself, and accompanied by fellow producer Beau Sorenson, he helped ease the pressure of recording, allowing SSLYBY to focus solely on laying down the tracks.
Appropriately titled, Let it Sway, possibly a representation of the band’s new approach to recording, finds SSLYBY going back to their roots. Their 2005 debut, Broom, was acclaimed for it’s colorful pop jangles while Pershing wasn’t so much, often criticized for it’s overproduction. Let it Sway‘s songwriting is in the same vein as the peppy, breezy Broom, while mixing in a polished production sound as heard on Pershing.
The album begins with a strong opening; the folky “Back in the Saddle,” could be interpreted as a new form of confidence the band has garnered over the past two years. “Sink/Let it Sway,” is an interesting approach to what Vampire Weekend or the Shins are doing while “Banned (by the Man)” is pure indie pop, boasting the singalong qualities of Weezer, while embracing a New Pornographers-like glam-pop sound.
But before long, the album begins to lose steam. The repetitiveness of “In Paris” diminishes the momentum the album had built up in the first few songs. “Not all of God’s creatures come in pairs y’know,” sings vocalist Will Knauer, which signifies a sense of clever overachievement that SSLYBY constantly embraces. Sure, clever can be a great shtick when in an indie band, but at times they lose me with ostentation and weird attempts at progression (“Everlyn” and “Animalkind”).
Ballad-wise, “Stuart Gets Lost Dans Le Metro,” is a definite stand out track and some of the best SSLYBY songwriting to date, while “Phantomwise” evokes Blue Album nostalgia, if you can sit long enough.
SSLYBY have tried to recapture the essence of their first album, while continuing to embrace some of the more frustrating elements displayed on their second. As a whole, it is an interestingly odd way to go about sound progression. While the band may have the best interest of songwriting at heart, fans who fell in love with the warm home recording and honest sound of Broom, may end up feeling a tad alienated.