The latest release by The I Live the Life of a Movie Star Secret Hideout, a band whose long name seems constructed just so people like me will comment on the uniqueness of its length, begins with a man, who I am told is named Adam, singing a whimsical ditty with words that make little sense but are supported by a catchy little melody. “Jettison, jettison, bring me your medicine / When you feel jealous and you’re all alone,” he sings, in a way that makes him sound like a hybrid of Mark Robinson, Calvin Johnson and a fairytale elf. What I mean is, he has a way of sounding both like a little kid dreaming in his bed, making up songs about cotton candy or whatever, and your typical early ‘90s indie-rock star. The I Live the Life… keep that feeling up for the whole CD. Each song makes me think I’ve heard it before; but was it from an early Teenbeat band, that indie-pop compilation I bought the other week, or that whistling seven-year-old I passed on the street yesterday?
Autumn Girl… has both newness and familiarity throughout. The unique side of the band comes from the extensive use of what sounds to me like a xylophone. Putting the spotlight on such an unconventional instrument probably brings the unavoidable charge that it’s just a gimmick, yet here it really works; paired with acoustic guitar, it provides a pretty backdrop for equally pretty melodies. In fact, for me this CD is at its best when the duo put their instruments at center stage and forget about singing all together, like on the gorgeous “2picobangbang”, one of a few instrumentals.
The non-instrumental songs are nice, just not that original. They all have that bouncy, pseudo-innocent feel of bands like the Pastels or Beat Happening. It’s hard for the analytical part of my brain to get past the familiarity (imitation, even) of the CD, or the fact that it’s 24 minutes but billed as a full-length album, yet the part of me that likes sing-along melodies and dreamy male/female vocals eats this right up. Pop songs like “Sagittarius” and “March Solar Skies”, or even the highly theatrical, show music-ish “Silver Hair”, are too lovely to do anything except produce a smile and make me sing along. Groundbreaking art this isn’t, but it has its charms nonetheless.