Let’s go down the checklist: concept albums are good, glitchy electronic pop is also good and songs about relationships and dating from an awkward human perspective are even better yet. And The Blow’s Poor Aim: Love Songs, combines all three so skillfully, Khaela Maricich should receive some kind of award for combining every hallmark of a great indie rock record (which also includes good songwriting and brevity) into one slender package. Part of States Rights Records and The Slender Means Society’s joint Pregnancy Series project, Poor Aim is like a straight girl’s brief response to Stephen Merritt’s 69 Love Songs. And if you heard any of those records, you’re already extremely interested in hearing this record.
Poor Aim is a mini-album of sorts, consisting of seven tracks and boasting a running time of under 20 minutes. But there’s plenty of great stuff to hear in those 20 minutes. As mentioned earlier, Poor Aim is, as its title would suggest, a collection of love songs told from different perspectives. In “Hey Boy,” Maricich approximates a remixed Spector girl group with the catchy refrain of “hey boy/ why you didn’t call me?” It’s sing-songy summertime fun, in which she comes up with her own hypothetical answers to her own question, starting with “A/you’re gay.”
It’s easy to draw a comparison to the Magnetic Fields, due to the subject matter, and I already did, thus proving my point. But musically, The Blow is more like a looser, female-fronted Postal Service. “The Sky Opened Wide” is peppy and poppy enough to earn as many fans as “Such Great Heights” did. “Knowing the Things That I Know” is pure brilliance, combining pretty vocal harmonies, dance-friendly beats and a resigned, almost cynical lyric. “Let’s Play Boys Chase Girls” is like a cuddle-pop version of Alec Empire, with drum machines going haywire under the silly narration, “boys/the secret about girls is we want you to like us.” And album closer “Come On Petunia” borrows the chorus from The Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” sung over a lazy, Vaudevillian melody.
Who could tire of clever, human tales of love and break-ups set to catchy tunes? Not me. And, when given the chance to hear Poor Aim: Love Songs, I’m confident that neither could most folks out there. Unfortunately, the cd release of the mini-album is limited to 700 copies. Luckily, K Records has copies on vinyl, so you have yet another reason not to go totally digital.
Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs
Postal Service – Give Up
Mirah – C’mon Miracle
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.