Heavenly Pop Hits
Secret Crush Records (***/2)
Imagine Mates of States with
a hyperactive horn section, and
you'll have some idea what the
Baskervilles sound like.
At least that's the formula the
14 songs on their second full-length bring to mind, since these fast-paced ditties feature boy-girl vocals and boisterous keyboard-playing. Others tunes recall slightly more sedate UK out-
fits, like Heavenly and Belle and Sebastian (Mates hail from
San Francisco, the Baskervilles from New York).
I'm not surprised Seattle's KEXP has been playing the heck out
of this thing. It's extremely accessible, and in the best possible sense (since "accessible" sometimes means watered-down).
The aptly titled "Smash," in particular, deserves to be a hit,
and it might not be entirely coincidental that the title rhymes
with the Primitives' irresistible 1988 single "Crash." (Ah, but whatever happened to those Brit-poppers...)
Since the Baskervil-
les revive fond memor-
ies of jangle-pop acts, like
Chris Stamey and Game
Theory, it only makes sense
that Let’s Active’s Mitch
Easter returned to prod-
uce Twilight or that the
Bongos’ Richard Barone
to arrange “Smash.”
"Sweet and Sour" and "Moves" also deserve wider exposure, but without the push of a major label that might not happen. With hope, however, the band has made a few videos, since they have the goods to conquer MySpace/YouTube with ease (granted, they aren't spring chickens, but I'd like to think that's a minor obstacle).
It certainly doesn't hurt that Stephanie Finucane (keyboards, guitar) and Rob Keith (guitar, trombone) have great voices, both together and separately; Keith even has that mid-Atlantic thing going on, which might seem pretentious in another context, but works like a dream with the Baskervilles' bouyant melodies.
Note: this entry has been altered since original posting.
Endnote: Images from the band's MySpace Page ("Baskervilles
in Japan" and "Who Took the Tape?"). Incidentally, as one of their influences, they list fabulous Frenchman Jacques Dutronc. Yes!