[4 October 2006]
Formed by the Minnesotan brother team of Ben and Jeremy Gordon, the songwriting talents of indie poppers the Vestals have come together wonderfully on their sophomore album, Songs About Girls…and Other Mysteries. Both the Gordons sing and play guitar, piano, and organ, and each contributed equally to the penning of these fourteen stately-yet-buzzing pop songs. Bassist Mark Weigel and a pair of drummers keep the tunes bouncing and the breaks tight and punchy. The band’s 2004 self-titled debut suffered from a songwriting duality, wherein brooding and dramatic tracks in the Jeff Buckley mold sat beside Badfingery power-pop numbers. On Songs About Girls, a happy compromise has been struck. Wisely, they played to their strengths, leaning closer to the post-Beatles hooks that made for the best moments on The Vestals, while still retaining just enough of their brooding grandeur to infuse their new material with some emotional resonance and depth. The “nah-nah-nah” chorus of the gorgeous “Nothing” vaults the song up into the pantheon of 2006 guitar pop tracks. That one’s a killer, and the disc is without much filler. This is a solidly crafted album that will hopefully get the Vestals noticed. Fans of Spoon and the Shins, and more classic acts like Big Star, the Raspberries, and the Shoes, should do themselves a favor and check out the very good Songs About Girls…and Other Mysteries.