Friday, December 7, 2012

In Which I Get Lost In The New Babies Album

The best thing I can say about Brooklyn's The Babies is that I am finding it really difficult to describe their sound. It's hard to resort to those old "It sounds like X meets Y"-sort of music writer tricks.

No, Our House On The HIll (Woodsist) is lively and fresh girl/boy stuff -- the type of thing I wish had been released when I was in college.

There's a faint hint of Cassie Ramone's Vivian Girls in her work here. But Kevin Morby's vocals are direct and affecting without being overly serious. It's somehow a -- gasp! -- fun record without being a silly one.

When Morby sings "I wanna get lost" in "Get Lost" it sets off a sort of sprightly guitar figure -- like NYC Seventies punk trying its hand at Van The Man covers.

Cassie takes over on "Baby" and the guitars surge behind her warm vocals -- that Vivian Girls sound is here but the effect is more direct, and less in debt to any obvious influences.

"On My Team" reveals that stuff like The Pastels -- and, obviously, V.U. -- is in the band's record collection but the steady drum-work from Justin Sullivan marches the track to its conclusion.

The band are at their collective best on faster riff-heavy tracks like "Moonlight Mile" where all the elements of the Babies' sound seem to coalesce perfectly.

However, the Unrest-aping "Chase It To The Grave" is the highlight of the record. Cassie's vocals, the riff, the cymbal-crashes -- all those pieces add up to something nearly perfect, something that sounds so effortless and easy.

The Babies have somehow taken that male/female band dynamic shaped by X and Yo La Tengo so long ago and molded it into something new. Indie rock tinged with a hint of folk rock and done up splendidly by these Brooklyn folks.

The thoroughly listenable and enjoyable Our House On The Hill is out now on Woodsist and it's only a matter of days before it shows up on a whole slew of year-end Best of 2012 lists.

Follow the band on their official Facebook page here, or on their official website here.