The Fireman’s Electric Arguments, the third installment from Paul McCartney and Youth’s experimental duo, foregoes the humdrum of traditional album structure in favor of a hypnotic sum of parts threaded together by thick, twangy guitar. McCartney’s influence, naturally, is overwhelming: There are echoes of Abbey Road in every other track change, along with snippets of the Eastern-style psyche-slide present on “Because” and “The Inner Light.” Electric Arguments, however, does not simply look to restate the Beatles’ already much-referenced canon; rather, it tries to explore farther, at once playing on listeners’ ’70s-rock nostalgia and their current obsession with the newest indie electronica.
Following in the indie tradition of bands like MGMT and Milosh, Portland natives Starfucker combine plunky Casio riffs with slow, barely varied backbeats on their new self-titled album. Though the baseline may be monotonous and traditional song structure nonexistent, there’s something soothing about the constant repetition; combined with the breathy, incomprehensible vocals, it lulls the listener into a kind of synthetic pleasure-coma. The album does have its clever moments: the opening song, “Florida,” ends with a clip of what sounds like Hugh Laurie inquiring about metric measurements, and the clap-beats on “Mike Ptyson” will stick in one’s head for hours.
Much like on their previous albums, the songs on Snow Patrol’s A Hundred Million Suns use minimalist rhythm guitar and piano solos to create a sense of visceral intimacy with the listener. With track titles like “If There’s a Rocket Tie Me To It,”and “Please Just Take These Photos From My Hands,” it feels as if lead vocalist Gary Lightbody is pleading with the listener directly, relying on the simplistic beauty of the swelling choruses to defeat any implication of “emo” in his occasionally overblown lyrics.
Maybe it’s the cheesy title, but something about Fast Times at Barrington High, the third full-length album from The Academy Is…, immediately evokes memories of the silly summer days before everyone started worrying about post-college employability. With perfect road trip songs like “Summer Hair = Forever Young” and “Coppertone,” Barrington High sounds like the ideal concept album dedicated to sneaking beer at graduation parties and illicit groping beneath the bleachers. There are no conceivable weak spots: Every track delivers a danceable beat that will worm its way into one’s subconscious for hours. The record’s only flaw, perhaps, is its monotony. Although lead singer / songwriter William Beckett’s turns of phrase are clever (particularly in the hilarious “Beware!
On The Quilt, their fourth full-length album, Gym Class Heroes are a study in contradiction, blending thick hip-hop beats with surprisingly catchy pop-rock guitar riffs. Although the beginning tracks include some painfully awkward rhyme choices (e.g. “Drnk Txt Rmeo”), they’re quickly followed by the tongue-in-cheek “Peace Sign/Index Down” and the strangely touching “Like Father, Like Son (Papa’s Song).” The strongest track by far, however, is “Live a Little,” in which guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo takes over the vocals. The result is perhaps what Gym Class was aiming for all along — an ultimately badass salute to the defiance of genre.