Release Date: Aug 19, 2014
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop
The Philadelphia-by-way-of-Austin combo Literature are students of indie pop and if their second album, Chorus, was their final paper, they would pass the class with flying colors. Not an A+ exactly, but a solid A- that leaves room for future improvement. Recorded by Ladybug Transistor's Gary Olson at his Marlborough Farms studio, the album has a warm sound that is extremely welcoming, while at the same time able to whip up plenty of excitement.
Literature are sort of asking for it with their name. The connotations are mostly stuffy, but it’s also a wink at the band’s relationship with the indie-pop canon they figure into. Their new album, Chorus, sounds like an English band emulating an American band around 1984; as it happens, Literature are actually four men from Philadelphia (including former Pitchfork contributor Kevin Attics).
Literature have spunk, verve, pluck. Their songs tend to skip and jump and breeze by. Their 2012 debut LP Arab Spring was one of that year’s indie-pop delights, a rough, charming run-through of singalong pop anthems. The more highly produced follow-up, their Slumberland Records debut Chorus, strikes the same tone while feeling altogether more developed.
The jangly indie pop sound, paisley ’60s flourishes, and accented vocals on Literature’s Chorus suggest something made in the heart of England, perhaps straight out of Morrissey’s shirt pocket — which wouldn’t be notable in the least, except that the quartet hail from Philadelphia. Not that there’s anything wrong with emulating cross-Atlantic influences; to be sure, both British and American bands have been doing that for decades. Literature just do so in an entirely professional and unabashed way, a way in which the fresh moments flash incongruously out of a familiar swirl — and when those moments don’t show, the swirl can get a little too familiar.
The word "jangly" seems to come up more often in indie pop reviews than anywhere else, but when it comes to a band like Literature and their new album Chorus, it's hard to think of a quicker way to sum up their sound. Take The Jam's "A Town Called Malice," update it for 2014, soften it up and stretch it out to 11 songs and there's the long-form definition for Chorus' sound. .