Sunny, brainy Cali pop abounds on this confident debut.
Historians may be torn over who coined the phrase "Go west young man", Horace Greeley or John Soule, or hell, if either of them did, but the attribution seems to matter naught to Go West Young Man frontman Damin Suarez, who's too busy fashioning himself into a sharp California popsmith to worry about which 1850s newspaperman said what first. On his band's eponymous debut, originally released in 2005, but gaining traction this year thanks to a reissue push from One Cell Records, Suarez (ex-the Fictions) treads the piano pop paths previously traversed by the Ben Foldses of the world, leavened with the sunny, brainy pop of the Broken West and the Format. Whether it's the highly polished, but not sterile, "The Covinas" or the classic jangle and snark of "Hard Times" ("All my friends owe me money," Suarez sighs), GWYM is a band that knows exactly where it wants to go on this strong, confident debut. And to the band's credit, the core fivesome (with help from plenty of musical friends) isn't content to (metaphorically) sit in beach chairs and stare wistfully at the Pacific: witness the throbbing "The Sky is Falling" and the flirting-with-no-wave horns on the post-punky "Calypso", surely the heaviest song to boast that upbeat title. Unless you're already living in the Golden State, go west, young men and women, and seek out Go West Young Man.