Stephin Merritt traded in his warm and quirky synth-pop long ago, since the late ’90s delivering theatrical multi-genre box sets and, this year, a set of thoroughly distorted Spector-esque pop. It’s all been really good, of course, but where Holiday once delivered buoyant new wave joys, a void has been left, with few artists able to fill with the same kind of charming, clever, happy-go-lucky urgency. Coincidentally, as The Magnetic Fields emerge with their noisiest release to date, along comes Seattle’s Throw Me The Statue, a group who stirs up a fun and friendly brand of lo-fi synth-pop, exactly the sort that’s been sorely missed since Merritt sought loftier ambitions.
Scott Reitherman, the primary force behind Throw Me The Statue, writes fuzzy, super-catchy pop songs that bridge the gap between Stephin Merritt’s theatrical new wave and Phil Elverum’s distorted art-folk. Suffice to say, it delivers a plentiful dose of sonic pleasure. What really separates Reitherman from these two songwriting icons, however, is his fairly straightforward and immediately accessible style. Throw Me The Statue never quite reaches the bipolar highbrow and silly extremes of Magnetic Fields, and, alternately, avoids the noisy experimentation of The Microphones. Reitherman opts for a good, solid pop song pretty much 100 percent of the time, and good, solid pop songs are exactly what he delivers.
“Young Sensualists” begins with a giant, sci-fi burst of synthesizer, but from this oblique ether is born a ramshackle indie pop tune with a more subdued keyboard and lots of strummy, acoustic guitar. “Lolita” takes a similar thread and runs with it, but with far catchier instrumental breakdowns and chimes aplenty. “A Mutinous Dream,” by contrast, sounds much closer to a Holiday outtake, with a warm buzz of analog bleeps and bloops lending the melody a comfy sort of glow. “Conquering Kids” provides a real treat, a gently shuffling ballad made all the more euphoric with just the right touches of harmonium and reverb. On “Yucatan Gold,” Reitherman even rocks some danceable beats, taking his fuzzy pop music out of the bedroom and into the club, where it undoubtedly belongs.
Throw Me The Statue shows great promise with this finely crafted debut. History has shown time and time again that a four-piece band or a studio are far from necessary to create a classic album. Reitherman isn’t quite there yet, but he’s off to a good start. Classic though it may not be, Moonbeams is really, really good.
MP3: “About To Walk”
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.