A Note to Readers: This review/album best read/listened to in your room, preferably whilst grounded, thinking alternately about how your parents don’t “get” you and why those popular girls never give you the time of day.
All overused jokes aside, the appeal of ‘90s-style pop-rock is an easily understood one. Usually self deprecating, always catchy, and occasionally venturing into lovably schmaltzy territory, the style has seen copycats and re-imaginers throughout the 00’s and 10’s. The latter (and better) of these certainly applies in the case of The High Country, the latest full length effort by the verbosely named indie pop long-timers Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin.
In what instantly scans as a fully fleshed out and satisfying collection of songs, “SSLYBY” manage to provide one after another short-but-sweet burst of fuzzed out, perpetually teenaged uptempo rock tracks that skirt the requisite genre norms of frequently name-checked and loved bands such as the ever relevant Weezer. From the very beginning of “Line On You”, SSLYBY show their chops at mixing gratifying pop hooks (with enough “Whoa-Oh-Ohs” to last a lifetime) with just enough sonic diversity for the chewing-inclined to chew on, but no more. Songs like “Trevor Forever” represent the height of this formula’s effectiveness, with a chant-like four chord chorus contrasting with subdued verses and noisy, dirty guitar flourishes.
Lyrically, The High Country does not set any new standard, but sees vocalist Philip Dickey delivering the usual musings on love, relationships, and more love. Usually singing to an indefinable “You” (maybe it’s “Madeline”, who knows), lines like “All the good songs and poems are about you, all the bad ones too” (“Step Brother City”) and “I hate having problems!” (“Madeline”) hearken back to the confused emotions of teenage years, young adulthood, and who are we kidding, life in general.
While the albums strongest moments come with songs like the heartbreaking and effective semi-ballad “Madeline” and irresistible head-bob inducing “Full Possession of All Her Powers”, it starts to drag somewhat in it’s latter half. This is mainly a result of the within-the-bounds stylistic attitude that the band shows on the record, and it certainly does not break any boundaries in really any metric. Still, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin proves on this release that ground does not have to be broken to satisfy. This well-trodden ground is sure to satisfy the teenager and the teenage-at-heart. And it’s no coincidence that many of life’s greatest memories come from a time like that, to music a lot like this.
Favorites: “Full Possession of All Her Powers”, “Madeline”, “Magnet’s New Summer ‘Do”
Not so Favorites: “Foreign Future”