PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


The Ladybug Transistor: Cant Wait Another Day

Tyler Womack

It starts on a dusty road in Arizona and ends up tanned, penniless, and spent at a beachside bar just north of San Diego. In the process, it becomes the Ladybug Transistor's best work to date.

The Ladybug Transistor

Can't Wait Another Day

Label: Merge
US Release Date: 2007-06-05
UK Release Date: Available as import

Can't Wait Another Day starts on a dusty road in Arizona and ends up tanned, penniless, and spent at a beachside bar just north of San Diego. That is to say, it starts where the Ladybug Transistor's self-titled album left off: a dusty western pastoral as indebted to Lee Hazlewood as the Left Banke. Mounting a slow car for the coast, it spends most of its time basking in the warm winds of southern California. Can't Wait Another Day, while a distinctly Ladybug Transistor album, gives nods to Burt Bacharach, Van Dyke Parks, and Harry Nilsson. It's also the band's best album to date -- with a spring in its step and warm confidence in its voice, the release represents a something of a rebirth for the band.

'Rebirth' is a strong term to throw around, especially when talking about a band as esoteric as the Ladybug Transistor. The group has never sounded modern. Like Belle and Sebastian and Saturday Looks Good to Me, the Ladybug Transistor lays claim to an era of sound that never actually existed. If it had, it would have come sometime in the late '60s. It would have emerged from a decidedly post-war Britain suffused with fog and dressed in all the trappings of polite society. The Ladybug Transistor has always been a chamber pop band. Its arrangements are built around a clean lead guitar and an aging piano. Strings and a rampant trumpet line add classicism to the mix, while Gary Olson's bright and tremulous baritone rounds out the sound.

Though the formula is the same, the songs on Can't Wait Another Day are more active and up-tempo. Lean lead guitar lines reign over most of the album. The aging piano is canned in favor of a sleek keyboard. Most obvious is the new sense of place that suffuses the album -- the band's mystery birthplace now seems more southern California than Brighton Beach.

Though the new album is a shaker, nowhere is the feeling of a "new band" as evident as in the slow songs. No more are they the austere sounds of a misty Atlantic morning. The Ladybug Transistor had "Gospel", "A Burial at Sea", and "The Last Gent", a trio drenched in organs and melodramatic strings. These were an exercise in form for the band. The slow tracks on Can't Wait Another Day are firmly grounded in the Pacific. The glistening piano on "Terry" is a dead ringer for Burt Bacharach. The song could have fallen off of the soundtrack for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A classic tale of reminiscence, it speaks of "All those hours by the shore / And down to old LA" ... "All those hours by the beach / And out with Doris Day". The listener would be hard-pressed to find a more distinctly California set-piece than this. "So Blind", on the other hand, is a finger-picked ballad that could have soundtracked Midnight Cowboy. "Lord, Don't Pass Me By" is the album's closer. Here we find our hero giving up the chase, shrugging his weary shoulders, and sipping a wistful drink. Trumpet, strings, and a classic saxophone fill out the tableau.

Though the slow numbers are as strong as anything the band's done, it's the fast songs that truly stand out. They fairly gallop along. This is due largely to the lead guitar lines, which are allowed to take off and truly stand on their own. This is especially apparent on "This Old Chase", where a strong, decidedly Americana guitar breaks out of the gate and carries the track like a charger. An active string section in the song's third act provides apt accompaniment.

The album's best surprise may lie in its sax lines. At once out-of-touch and perfectly placed, the saxophone tends to make late entrances and "ice the cake", turning good tracks to great tracks. They also contribute to the distinctly San Diego sound. Opener "Always on the Telephone" turns smooth during its saxophone solo, and closer "Lord, Don't Pass Me By" gains gravitas.

The standout song on Can't Wait Another Day is "I'm Not Mad Enough". A straight-ahead pop song, it rides in on a confident guitar and a delicate brace of violins. Thematically consistent with the rest of the album, "I'm Not Mad Enough" is about heartache -- in this case a relationship falling apart. The narrator refuses to admit defeat, capping off each chorus with the knowing line, "You say it's over, but look what's coming round the bend". There's a clever sense of repetition on the track:

I'm not mad enough

Oh Lord, I've had it rough.

I'm not man enough

I haven't got the stuff.

I'm not mad enough

but boy, I like it rough.

These lines appear in sequential choruses, giving the song a light-hearted air. "I'm Not Mad Enough" ends with an outro that ups the sense of athleticism on display throughout the track.

Can't Wait Another Day has a rare sense of consistency about it. Though the Ladybug Transistor's albums have always been an exercise in form, they haven't always been consistently interesting. Precious set-pieces and fanciful instrumentals were used to fill out the band's releases. Grounded in an altogether more substantial sound, the band on Can't Wait Another Day produces a surfeit of good, well-rounded ideas. In the process, they give us a novel soundtrack: One perfectly suited to convertible rides, balmy summer sunsets, and crisp leisure suits. The Ladybug Transistor consistently flies under the radar. Can't Wait Another Day is an excellent illustration of why audiences should take note.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.