Great Lakes (Kindercore)

Great Lakes (Kindercore)

Record Reviews

Great Lakes

(Kindercore)

What if Brian Wilson hadn't spent the Mid-Seventies in bed? What if he picked himself up from the morass of the 1967's aborted Smile album and kept right on producing Pet Sounds-caliber Teenage Symphonies to God for the next decade? The wonderfully layered pop soapbox from Athens, Ga.'s Great Lakes evokes a wishful scenario in which Wilson delivers a solo album circa 1975 with Brian Eno at the helm. Here, it's Apples in Stereo mastermind Robert Schneider at the mixing board on an album recorded entirely at home, and though the Beach-Boy harmonies are supplanted by forlorn, nasal vocals, the multi-instrumentalist trio taps deep into Pet Sounds' bittersweet aural notion of innocence lost. The preponderance of keyboards and synthesizers among the horns and strings adds a distinguishing element of New Wave sterility to the overall mix. This serves to temper Great Lakes' psychedelic fairy-tale overtones, creating a near-perfect balance between warm harmony and cold discordance. Of course, none of it would matter without memorable hooks, and Great Lakes is chock-full of faraway melodies that lurk in the back of your mind like glimpses of former selves. "Storming" and "Become the Ship" are nautical-style passages that end in blazing sunset crescendos, while "A Little Touched" and "Virgil" incorporate the Beatles/XTC axiom of recasting snippets of British music-hall entertainment within the context of psych-pop. Anyone with even the slightest predilection toward the hopelessly romantic notions underlying pure pop music will find plenty to identify with in Great Lakes' 12 songs. Every summer deserves an album like this.

****

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