The new one from Ablebody, Adult Contemporaries, out Friday on Lolipop Records, is indie but it's hardly the brand of that genre played by Anton Holcheim in his other band, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Likewise, the tunes here are not quite the same as those from The Depreciation Guild, the band featuring Anton's twin brother Christoph. The brothers here have made something more polished and poppier than perhaps anyone would have ever expected and the album was, for me at least, a massive surprise.
"Backseat Heart" sets things up with a burst of smooth new wave that recalls mid-period Human League or even Japan. The superb "After Hours" shines with a kind of Kitchens of Distinction-like shimmer, while "Gaucho" rings with a certain lightness of touch that recalls stuff like The Wild Swans or even O.M.D., despite the fact that the guitars here are heavier than those on those other bands' records. The absolutely excellent "Powder Blue" rides in on a hook that is simply impossible to shake and that cut flows into a fine cover of Servants staple "The Sun, A Small Star" that does right by the original. The lush "Marianne" compares favorably to some early Depeche Mode tracks, while the warm "Say What You Will" charms like the best Associates singles, for lack of a better comparison.
The best moments on Adult Contemporaries echo Eighties new wave classics but there is nothing ironic or smart ass here. This is heartfelt music -- check out closer "Wayside Glow" -- made by a band who have very successfully and sincerely incorporated elements of earlier genre pioneers into their releases. Like the tunes of peers Gardens and Villa, or The Cairo Gang, the songs here from Ablebody are expertly-crafted bursts of the sort of tunefulness that is sadly lacking from lots of indie these days. This release was such a pleasant surprise for me that I can only stress that I consider Ablebody a band to watch intently from this point forward.
[Photo: Michael Delaney]