Thursday, June 21, 2007
Ladybug Transistor--Can't Wait Another Day (2007)
Album-Can't Wait Another Day
Release Date-Jun 5, 2007
Review-Can't Wait Another Day, the Ladybug Transistor's sixth album, finds them back in their home studio, Marlborough Farms, after a jaunt to Arizona for their previous release. Gone are the wide, dusty expanses of 2003's Ladybug Transistor in favor of the idyllic suburban sounds Gary Olson and Bill Wells have consistently conjured during Ladybug's long career. Gone too is Sasha Bell, who opted out of the band in favor of a full-time commitment to the Essex Green. Her songwriting, keys, and vocals are missed, but the band drafted in some fine singers to fill her shoes (Alicia Vanden Heuvel of the Aislers Set, Frida Eklund of Alma) and also added Great Lakes member Kyle Forester on all manner of keyboards. Olson also brought in guitarist Ben Crum (also from Great Lakes), as longtime Ladybug Jeff Baron's involvement in the band has lessened, too. So, those are the changes to the scorecard; the real question is, does the record suffer for the lack of old blood and influx of new? The simple answer is no, mostly because Gary Olson hasn't changed. He still possesses the finest baritone warble in indie rock, writes (with the help of his bandmates) unfailingly catchy pop tunes and perfectly pitched melancholy ballads, and produces records that sound like a cross between the Left Banke and Buckingham-led Fleetwood Mac. He also has a knack for picking covers — in the past their version of Jan & Dean's "Like a Summer Rain," here Trader Horne's "Here Comes the Rain" and Samara Lubelski's "Broken Links," both of which perfectly complement the group's originals. Speaking of which, the songs on Can't Wait are among the best the band has recorded; maybe it's the new lineup or the return to their home studio, but something seems to have spurred the band to give its sound a boost of energy and imagination. They sound a bit more like a rock band and less like a chamber pop ensemble on songs like "In-Between" and "California Stopover," which is not a bad thing after so many records that captured that chamber pop sound so perfectly. The addition of strings on large portions of the album also makes things more sonically satisfying and adds some emotional punch to the ballads, especially the song that closes the album with a Bacharach-ian shot right to the heart, "Lord, Don't Pass Me By." The changes to the band are sad for longtime fans (none more so than the tragic passing of drummer San Fadyl just weeks before the album's release), but the end result is another beautiful record that stands right alongside the group's best work. And if you've been following them at all, you know that the Ladybug Transistor's best work equals the best pop music made at any time in the past 50 years.
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