Friday, August 19, 2011

EP review: Blah Blah Blah - 'Thank You Thank You'

By Frank Krolicki

There probably hasn't been a blog post or article written yet about Blah Blah Blah that doesn't mention the Smiths. I was going to try to make this review of the Chicago-based quartet's new EP Thank You Thank You the first, but eventually realized it was futile. It's undeniable, and if you proudly have The Queen Is Dead on your iPod chances are you'll dig these six tunes.

I don't want to discredit the band, though, because Thank You Thank You doesn't at all come off as a stale imitation of something that came before it. For all its obvious influences, the EP is actually a completely refreshing listen. Sure, frontman Solomon Moss's smooth, poetic delivery might come from the school of Morrissey, but it's actually less of an acquired taste, and the words he's singing are not as overblown. All of the performances here are impressive, and combined with quality songwriting throughout, this stuff holds its own against anything that might have inspired it. Plus, it's hard to ignore the fact that this is a band made up of three African American guys and one guy of Columbian descent making music built on Brit-pop and new wave; Blah Blah Blah's multi-cultural makeup is refreshing, and combined with their musical skills and dapper style, helps to create a unique identity.

The EP's production is another major part of what makes it so successful. Working with producer Matt Walker (whose resume includes the likes of Smashing Pumpkins and Morrissey himself), the band opted for an old school approach, recording the songs on analog tape instead of going the digital route. The result is a warm and crisp sound that suits the songs' sense of nostalgia perfectly.

Thank You Thank You starts with "A Game We Play," which set the dreamy, wistful tone nicely in just under two minutes before the jaunty "Crazy Fools" provides some of the catchiest moments on the EP. "Why Am I The Only One Laughing," which the band previously released as a less-polished version, is a highlight with its half sung, half laughed vocal hook. On the second half, the drifting, lush "Say Your Name"--which suggests another, less-obvious influence, The Ocean Blue--is made for daydreaming, while "Soon As I Get Home Tonight" contributes the EP's most upbeat two-and-a-half minutes. The band offer up a synth-pop finale with "They Don't Dance," which carries on the starry-eyed spirit of the preceding tracks but with a more electronic sparkle.

I am pretty sure Moz would approve.

'Thank You Thank You' is available on August 23rd. Blah Blah Blah will celebrate the release of the EP with a show on Saturday, August 27th at Double Door (8 p.m., $10, 21 and over. Tickets). Check out the video to 'Why Am I The Only One Laughing' below.

Blah Blah Blah - Why Am I The Only One Laughing - Official Music Video from MAJOR K: Kasia Koniar on Vimeo.
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