CD Review: The Modern Skirts

This album’s been a long time coming from Athens pop band Modern Skirts. All of Us In Our Night is their sophomore effort and is currently available in Athens ONLY until January when it’s released on the world.

First, a word about the artwork. It’s rare to find something that stands out and yet fits in so well with your collection. Sometimes you get the oddball “tacky in a lovable way” sleeve like Ruby Isle’s latest or the “utterly forgettable” Liz Durrett cover (it’s pretty but bland). The art of Night tells a story in pictures, taking up almost the whole booklet. It’s beautiful. Paint drips and bleeding colors. But enough of my OOOH PRETTY! comments, you just have to see it for yourself.

Chanel: A droning sound and some “do do do”s throw you off with this first track. My first thought was “MY GOD! The Skirts have gone techno!” Rest assured gentle pop fans, while the Skirts did indulge in a bit more synth sound this go round, Chanel proves that it’s only to enhance the sound. The guitar comes back in and you hear Jay Gulley’s voice soothing you into the song, with JoJo Glidewell and Phillip Brantley
harmonizing all the way.

Soft Pedals: An interesting beat in this one, plenty of shaker action going on. The whole thing feels like a dream. The Skirts’ uncanny ability to surprise you comes through here in the song structure. You could swear they’re going one way, then the beat changes slightly and off you go. This is the track that will float around in your head as you walk down the fall lit streets.

Chokehold: A quiet number. It’s soft but for some reason the mix on this song annoys me. The vocals seem a little too high up and the drumbeat is a bit too choppy. Actually, this seems like a reject from R.E.M.’s Reveal sessions. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. The Skirts have a way to go before they get to THAT BAND’s level of songwriting but out of all the bands in Athens, they’re one of the most likely to follow in that path.

Radio Breaks: NEEDS TO BE A SINGLE. It catches you right from the beginning and sounds more like the Skirts’ debut than most of the album. Plenty of actual piano and sudden key changes. Nice addition of a horn section. Really, it’s pop bliss. You’ll be humming this one all day.

Yugo A sweet sounding little number. What really makes this track work is the interesting rhythm behind it. This one also seems like a throwback to Catalog of Generous Men but it’s a bit more inventive than the boys would’ve allowed themselves to be at first. Lyrics are still about girls and longing but it’s okay. This is what they do.

Face Down A little rougher sounding than the rest. “What to do when you’re famous in a small room…” very interesting line. I try not to confuse the singer with the song here but you’ve just got to wonder about that. Honestly, the track doesn’t do much for me but make of it what you will.

Conversational Distorted voice work on here. Jay sounds like he’s singing through a megaphone. Everything else sounds like you’re hearing it with water in your ears. It’s distant and compelling. Props to them for trying something new and getting it (at least partially) right. It’s also the shortest song on the record which makes sense because the whole distortion trick would get old after too long.

Astronauts Another slightly distorted voice paired with a one-two strummed guitar. Nice harmonies but this is one that I usually skip over. Probably should’ve been a b-side. Not that those exist anymore.

Eveready About as rocky as they’ll get on Night. More guitar than usual (there’s a solo!!!). A nice footstomper in concert I think but seems to fall a little flat on cd.

Motorcade: MUST LISTEN. NOW. AND AGAIN IN 3 minutes and 55 seconds. It hooks you from the first strums and won’t let you go with that insanely catchy chorus. A lot more vocal work (including a certain local bassist/water tower climber). This’ll be a major sing along like “Pasadena,” trust me. My favorite and arguably the best song on the record. Please make a video. I beg of thee.

Mrs. Another soft one in the vein of a plaintive guy with a guitar alone. Other touches come in, a small bit of organ (again, mixed over the vocals a little. WTH?) But overall a nice track.

Like Lunatics What do I say about this one? Synth. Very odd and seemingly very Unskirtish. Add to that the drumloop beat and you could have a mess on your hands. BUT! There’s nice vocals and the ever present guitar strum going on. As the song continues, you notice the synth less and less until it’s just sort of there. You’re focused on the piano and voice. Lovely way to end the album and probably a good indicator of where the boys are headed next.

So, I give it an 8/10. While I still prefer Catalog over Night I chalk that up more to the fact that I’ve had a loooooong time to fall in love with that album. Recommended for when you’re riding the bus or in a car for some distance. It’d better not be this long before the next disc boys.

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2 comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The song “like lunatics” starts with a synth that is very or exactly the same as another song from a group that is absolutly bugging the crap outta me – good song. The other song i am wondering about is sung by a girl and the lyrics that are stuck in my head go “Never would have thought it’d end like this” – its a lyric she repeats again but the name of the song is the very last word of the song. Sorry for this criptic weird message – i just study a bit of music and the starting notes are exactly the same. I thought it was “Tagan and Sara” but couldn’t find the song in the 3 CD i have, then i thought that it might be “Hello Saferide” – still no joy, then maybe “I’m From Barcelona” – again didn’t find it, and now i am thinking maybe “Broken Social Scene” or “Arcade Fire” – i am starting to think that it might be a group that tends to mix the leading artists vocals per song – like Arcade Fire etc. If someone could give it a listen (The first 10 secs you’ll either know it straight away or not) and just mail me back, you’d be putting me out of a lot of pain – and judging by the length of this – their is a underlying issue in my head too.

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