Artist: The Memories
Title: The Memories (self-titled LP)
Record Label: Underwater Peoples
A debut album doesn’t get much better than this. Mellow and dreamy with confident guitar work and hazy vocals, this four-piece band from Portland nudges heartstrings with their self-titled debut album that’ll be released by Underwater Peoples Records on April 24th .There’s an innocence to this music that I haven’t come across since The Posies. The entire album is full of nostalgic, starlit ballads crooned by sweetly earnest boys about the girls they like; songs that might have been created after sneaking beers from their parents’ fridge to share with friends over jam sessions in the garage.This earnestness comes through in the lyrics for “Softly”, undoubtedly inspired by heartbreak and loss… and in Sad Guy”, which is a hilarious tale about a melancholy nighttime visitor who sings sad songs to the vocalist for the perverse pleasure of watching him cry. In some of the other songs, the melodies speak for themselves without having to rely on verbal expression—“Cowboys Don’t Get High”, for example, is an energetic romp with sharp drums and dueling guitars: no lyrics needed.
In an era rife with hipster douchebaggery and an over-abundance of auto-tuning, this is a refreshing trip into melodic, guitar-fueled tunes. Interestingly, the band manages to channel some of the of 1950s/60s pop tunes into the mix, with hints of Bobby Darin or Paul Anka seeping through. Some of the lyrical narratives are similar to music of that era, and though these particular tracks might have raised an eyebrow or two at the local social club back then, a few of them might not have been wholly out of place at a sock-hop or 4-H dance your parents might have gone to. Or grandparents. Yeah, probably grandparents at this point.
Appreciation for the LP doesn’t mean that the boys don’t have room for improvement. Though the occasional off-key wails are endearing in a puppy-ish sort of way, they’re a bit distracting, and detract from the flow of several tracks. There are a couple of wince-worthy moments in “Kiss Me”, and half of the lyrics to “Silly Little Picture” were muffled and nearly incomprehensible, but I’ve no doubt that these guys will polish up their act as they grow.
Ultimately, this record sounds like what it probably must be deep-down: a quirky collaboration put together by good friends with a taste for candy-coated absurdity, fueled by cheap beer, subs, and daydreams. It’s a great soundtrack for lazy days spent dicking around, blowing off worries, and just being. Those simple pleasures are really what life’s all about, aren’t they? Thanks for the reminder, boys—hugs and cupcakes to you.