SSLYBY hits and misses on second CD

When someone listens to Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin’s debut album Broom, one probably would think the album was recorded in some grungy basement with a budget of practically no money.

The image is pretty close to accurate. The interestingly named band got together, unsigned to any label and became the self proclaimed “third best band on Weller Street in Springfield, Miss.” They wrote an album with expectations of conning a couple of friends to take a listen and maybe getting some curious listeners to give the album a chance.

Surprisingly, the album turned out to be a pop gem and a huge internet success. It started spreading on the internet, with bloggers advertising any MP3 they could get their hands on. Songs sounded uncomplicated, earnest and sometimes even heart -felt. The album didn’t succeed in spite of its lack of production; it succeeded because of it.

With some press coverage, the band was eventually signed to label Polyvinyl and given a proper recording studio and money. An irrational fear popped up among their fans: what happens when a band gets more resources and more time to create their music and loses some of their lo-fi sound? In the case of Pershing, they sound more polished, but the core sound still plays the same.

Though the band retains many of the qualities that they had on the first album, it sounds as though they played the best pop albums of the past couple of years on repeat. The album sounds like the amalgamation of Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins and Beulah. It could have been called Something About Chutes is Never Clear as the band clearly wears their influences on their sleeves. It is certainly not bad company to be in.

The first track of the album, “Glue Girls,” is a fun opener that has the group taking advantage of the instruments and has the group showing a departure from the original sound of the album. It’s complex and well-produced, something a listener could not characterize any part of the first album.

One of the best songs, “Think I Wanna Die” is yet another one of those songs audiences will swear they have heard before but they just can’t pinpoint on who or what band sang it. It would fit right in along the side of any Shins album, sandwiched in the middle of Oh, Inverted World or Chutes Too Narrow.

Still, the best track on the album is the second-to-last, a randomly titled song called “HEERS.” It’s just a guitar and a piano playing off of each other. It’s stripped down and sound as though it could be right on the first album, right down to the chorus, with the words stating “Now she’s drawing circles in the air… “ Just like with most pop lyrics, the words independent of the song don’t do it justify, as this is the one song that achieves exactly what SSLYBY want to do: bridge the general gap between the sincere and a sterile sheen.

Unfortunately, for as much as they achieve with the new songs, it also sounds like imitation at times. And not very good ones.

“Oceanographer” never really gets anywhere and the most memorable part of it is hearing oceanographer over and over again, something a typical person probably will not hear for the rest of his or her life.

“Dead Right,” brought nothing terribly interesting to the album and seemed like filler or an unnecessary admission of something.

Other ones are merely ok or do not have anything interesting that would justify making the actual album.

It is a slight disappointment after how good their first album was, a surprise considering they had little more than their instruments, a random recorder, and a computer to post it all online with. Now, with the access that they had to the toolst that most artists use, they missed an opportunity to show that they are more diverse and a more mature pop band than the other ones, attempting to duplicate what they had done before. The results are mixed andit is sometimes bordering on boring or unnecessary.

Ultimately, the album is able to rise up above the misses for a pretty solid pop album. While it is easy to dismiss pop as formulaic or easily duplicated, this album is proof that there is a fine line that groups border on between a great pop song and just another pop song. SSLYBY was closer on their first album, but they have not lost sight of what makes a great pop album and it seems as though they will have plenty more chances to improve themselves. And who knows, maybe they will become the second best band on Weller Street. It’s probably very stiff competition they face from the other two.