[19 September 2006]
To these ears, the best pure pop songs are never saccharine-sweet happy—when they are, you’re stuck with “Shiny Happy People”. From the frustrations of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” to the, uh, frustrations of, oh, nearly everything from Fountains of Wayne, there’s just something right about pairing angst with perfect pop craftsmanship. Pants Yell! frontman Andrew Churchman does his musical ancestors one better on his band’s sophomore LP, Recent Drama: he crafts winning pop music out of apathy. “I’m never gonna leave my street”, he sighs on “New #4” and admits on the quiet closer “Southend-on-Sea” that he’d “rather mope around all day / Than try to feel better”. But lest you think Churchman is little more than a guy who is very well acquainted with the tops of his Converse sneakers, he tosses in smartass, faux-self-involved lines like the album closing “I’m wearing a t-shirt with my face on it” and “Kids Are All the Same”‘s “We all agree to write our journals in bed”. What could be bleak or insufferable in a lesser writer’s hands is never anything less than utterly charming when handled by Churchman. Too, they’ve got the rules of indie pop down cold. From the jangle of “Easy Way to Be Cruel” to the organ-fueled “Don’t Take It” and “It’s Been Done”‘s cracking drum coda, Churchman—along with drummer Carly Smith and bassist Sterling Bryant—never waste a note on their three minute pop gems.