I found this old review I wrote for a website called realbuzz.com that subsequently decided it was only going to be a fitness website, taking down the first internet proof that I was a music writer. I have some of the documents I wrote for them saved on my computer, and I thought the one I wrote about SSLYBY is sort of funny. I thought the album was called Perishing, when it was really named Pershing after a WWI general. Also, my writing had an informality and unpretentiousness and naivete that I think I've fallen away from slightly. I sort of wish I heard music through the same ears as I used to. My writing today feels more forced.
Their next performance is in a middle school cafeteria. You know, preteens, French fries, and – an indie pop band? The situation is a bit atypical. Then again, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin isn’t exactly classifiable as your standard stuffy, snobbish pop stars. The four boys are a bunch of average joes from Springfield, Missouri. But little things, like the cafeteria performance and the fact that they named themselves after Russia’s first president on a whim, show a playfulness that sadly seems forgotten in circles of music elitists and in top 40 artists alike.
SSLYBY doesn’t want to be taken seriously. Nor do they take themselves seriously. They invoke a careless, fun-loving vibe in Perishing, watching the world as it changes before their eyes, but refusing to let it get them down. Why get bogged down by weighty issues when you can let the music distract you a little?
The songs on this album invoke lovely thoughts – those of sunshine, childhood, cheesy jokes, red popsicles, and, well, cheerful things. Every song has some kind of special touch of happiness throughout. Take “Oceanographer,” for example. Two alternating chords lead to a whimsical, but brief, “wooooo!” You know the “woo” was planned, but the group sneaks it in there so slyly, it sounds like a masterpiece of spontaneous creativity. In “Dead Right,” lyrics like “you’re gonna lose it/if you don’t choose it” mock the whole “you lose it if you don’t use it” myth that middle school health classes try to dispel.
SSLYBY have made an impeccable bunch of well-crafted pop tunes on this Polyvinyl Records release. Each song is a glittering gem, tying riffs and drum beats together in a pattern that radiates a kind of beauty that can only be found in music that carries a pure and unfettered simplicity. You might compare them to sunny folk like Nada Surf and Rogue Wave (they do sound incredibly similar to the latter). “Think I Wanna Die” may have morbid title, but the effervescent, jumpy track is one of the best on the album.
SSLYBY weave themes like young love and heartbreak through the album. Lines like “maybe if I lay low/ love will fall around my door,” in the album opener “Glue Girls” is one demonstration of the band’s youthful hopefulness and positivity.
A listen through Perishing is refreshing, easy, and, if you are a fan of plain old pop, guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Just remember to watch out. These four goofballs could soon be coming to a cafeteria near you. You might just be able to find a way to sneak in (and steal some tater tots while you’re at it).