David & the Citizens Until The Sadness Is Gone

[Friendly Fire; 2006]

Rating: 2/5

Styles: indie pop, twee, singer-songwriter
Others: The Decemberists, Okkervil River, Belle & Sebastian

Swedes David and the Citizens’ Until the Sadness is Gone certainly fires a few warning salvos before it begins spinning. Melancholy album art (a sad, slight giant-child asleep in a field, sprouting trees) paired with its lousy title kept me from listening to this record for quite a while. David & co., as it turns out, aren’t all that bad; they just aren’t worth taking particular notice of yet.

Until the Sadness is Gone sandwiches a downtempo, ballad-ridden middle section between six more upbeat tunes, the record’s opening and closing trios. The galloping twee pop of these tunes plays best to the band’s strengths: simple horn and clarinet accents, wispy drums, and singer David Fridlund’s high, nasal voice. Fridlund’s singing is what makes this band sound most like also-rans – despite my own reservations about The Decemberists, Colin Meloy gets away with singing like that largely because of what he’s singing (thoughtful lyrics go a long way). Fridlund’s lyrics could be worse, but they’re not great, and he often comes off sounding like They Might Be Giants’ John Flansburgh or, worse, Weird Al. Tough when you’re delivering lines like “Did I ever take my eyes off the horizon?/ Lead the way from this place and point me out a new direction.”

It’s not all bad, as the title track has a bit of the poppy urgency of Ben Folds Five’s “The Last Polka,” and the Okkervil-Rivery “As You Fall (I Watch With Love)” makes best use of the ubiquitous horn section. Until next time, however, David & the Citizens are going to be relegated to the bargain bin.

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