Release Date: Sep 17, 2013
Record label: Polyvinyl
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop
Released in 2010, Let It Sway wasn't exactly a hard-rockin' album, and three years later, the matured members of Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin turn down their guitar amplifiers to a barely audible sigh and write their arrangements around piano and acoustic guitar. Even breezier than on prior outings, Fly by Wire finds the band peppering ten straightforward arrangements with its distinctively cute brand of indie pop pep. Crafted with the ambient swells and airy vocals often heard in chillwave, an emphasis on keyboards and an electro-acoustic Postal Service vibe hint that that this is a product of the recording studio, especially if one were to compare it to the raw Americana-based home-recording style of their early releases.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is a textbook mixtape band. Their albums—as one whole entity comprised of individual song cells—present a pleasant albeit borderline-bland experience. And most of those individual cells, the songs, don’t stand much of a chance solo…except for those mixtape gems. SSLYBY’s latest, Fly By Wire has two of those.
Somewhere along the way, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin lost the lo-fi, recorded-in-an-attic quality that branded them as part of the mid-2000s blog-rock wave. They still make darling pop songs, but Fly By Wire is devoid of the melancholy that often infused their earlier work. The sad stuff has been flushed in favor of blissful, sunny melodies that don’t hesitate to embrace dangerous optimism.
Sometimes you can never quite embody the heady words people are prepared to knock out about you. When US music bimonthly Spin referred to Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin as the group that “could someday succeed The Shins as the band that will change your life” in a review of the quartet’s 2005 debut album, Broom, it had a galvanising effect on the young Missourians’ career. Referencing a certain Zach Braff-directed film that played a large part in the rise of indie pop to early noughties cultural dominance, it was a huge contributor to a wave of hype that the nascent four-piece could never really match.
Given the quiet vibe coming off this Missouri band’s latest record, I’m feeling a little self-conscious about this review, like maybe the font is too big or I shouldn’t use any caps at all for fear that it be misinterpreted as yelling. Through the breezy guitar chords and Jonathan James’s nearly whispered vocals, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is definitely building on the more mature foundation they started with 2010’s Let it Sway. On this, their fourth effort for Polyvinyl, the band still manages to pull of some great, breezy pop songs (“Cover All Sides” being among the best in this batch), but there are also a couple that sound tossed together.