Most often in the college-radio world, the term “pop” is given with a derogatory sneer, and a dismissive wave of the hand. If I told you that a song like “Hurricane Fire” had a series of “whoo-ooh-oohs” through the bridge, it may not propel you to pay particular attention to the record. You should pay particular attention to this record. This album, which features Detroit-based musicians Christian Doble (Kiddo, Child Bite), Alicia Gbur (The Nice Device, The Von Bondies) Matt Rickle (Thunderbirds Are Now! , The Javelins) and Mike Spence (Those Transatlantics), is pop, in a way, say that the Pixies played pop, a little loud at times with driving guitars, a little soft at times, and with hooks all through the album. A song like “Break It Off” begins with drums and adds bass reminiscent of old Pixies. The guitars that follow are also influenced with the best of 90s college radio, and come complete with harmonies between Gbur and Doble. The vocal interplay between the two helps add depth to this album, which, in less capable hands, could have come off like a tribute to the 90s scene, but instead takes elements of this sound, and makes it original. One of my favourite moments on this record occurs in the opening minute of “Cobra On The Beach”, which has a great driving guitar lead which dies down to allow Gbur’s vocals come to the forefront. The chorus, with combined vocals and chiming guitars, is one of the best examples of “pop” that have been released in a while.
There is more to this album than “pop” and vocals. The twin guitars in a song like “Suicide” bring an almost blues-y college rock riff to the song, and lead single “Pixels” has a twinkling guitar adding to the slightly chugging rhythm. Bass features prominently on occasion (particularly on “Hurricane Fire” and “Break It Off”, the latter which would have been my choice for single), to help provide more texture to the album. Coastlines comes across as a real collaboration, rather than one songwriter driving the overall direction. The fact that all members are credited on each song, adds to this sense of collaboration.If you like the Pixies, and thought Yuck’s album last year was good, I recommend checking out this album.