[10 August 2011]
If album titles are any indication, the Red Button – Seth Swirsky and Mike Ruekberg – are obsessed with time. To wit, 2007’s She’s About to Cross My Mind and its new follow-up, As Far As Yesterday Goes. Almost as much as they are with girls; they are a power pop/singer-songwriter duo, after all. Taking that temporal fascination into account, it’s no surprised that the band flipped forward a few calendar pages from its debut’s ‘60s popisms for the McCartney/Emitt Rhodes-style ‘70s singer-songwriter vibe on As Far As Yesterday Goes. Clearly indebted to the aforementioned musicians, as well as in league with current pop craftsmen with a Nixon-era pop bent like Matthew Sweet, Butch Walker, Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, and Brendan Benson, Swirsky and Ruekberg deliver a dozen perfectly shined pop gems. A little Rickenbacker jangle, some piano, handclaps, the on-call string section, it’s all here and all perfectly in its proper place.
Girls, as ever, are causing problems and these two are in their thrall. Whether they’re apologizing for “causing you pain” on the title track, pleading on “Girl, Don’t, fighting on “Easier”, being driven to distraction by an unrequited love on the clever “I Can’t Forget”, or simply falling for the kind of beautiful girl who always seems to find her way into this kind of band’s songs on “On a Summer Day”, the duo’s knack for churning out breezy, effortless pop is the only thing that rivals their hopeless romanticism.
A little more subdued sonically –- more piano and slower tempos than the Red Button’s charming debut (if you take nothing else from this review, go find that album’s world-conquering lead track, “Cruel Girl”)—As Far As Yesterday Goes still finds two masters operating at the peak of their powers. Only one question remains: Will the third album embrace cheesy ‘80s power ballads?