The Ladybug Transistor Can’t Wait Another Day

[Merge; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: chamber-pop, baroque bubblegum
Others: Magnetic Fields, Belle & Sebastian, The Apples In Stereo

I like to call this era in indie rock amateur hour. (I wish the era only lasted 60 minutes.) There are only so many bands who have their shit together. Staying true to that expression, I suppose most bands are splattering diarrhea all over the bowl. On the other hand, Ladybug Transistor, who came into being during another era, falls into the former category. They are solidified. With Can’t Wait Another Day, their sixth studio album, it's obvious they aren’t dabblers; they’re vets. Here’s a couple clues to support that:

(1) They call Brooklyn home, but fail to come off anxiously hip or tragically trendy (chalk their ridiculous name up to their peripheral relation to Elephant 6).

(2) Their singer Gary Olson sings in a wonderful baritone — not because he’s compensating or hiding his lack of ability, but because that’s his range and he sings appropriately with it. Hell, I’m so proud and appreciative of Ladybug Transistor that I’m going to change the aforementioned ‘couple clues’ to ‘few clues.’

(3) They use a warehouse full of instruments, but each is incorporated wisely — there is never a “Hey ya’ll, let’s use this pawn shop glockenspiel on track five” moment.

Olson isn’t afraid to invite. He nearly runs a musical outreach program. He has many friends to depend on (the message of his music supports this). Members of Aislers Set, Architecture In Helsinki, The Clientele, and more upon more help out with this Can’t Wait Another Day affair. These guests masquerade about the mix, blending into the overall sound. Even the inclusion of two covers — “Here Comes the Rain” and “Broken Links” — fit snug like a fat man’s fanny pack. Ladybug Transistor sounds utterly professional with their use of strings, horns, and even guitar riffs. So professional it’s almost soft rock. Almost muzak. But Ladybug Transistor’s professionalism is too fresh for either of those insults. They write songs that would make Burt Bacharach proud.

It’s hard to rave all over-the-top-like with a rating of four (4/5) or five (5/5), because the band is so consistent. The consistency somewhat masks how good they are. It’s tough to distinguish very good from great. A single flaw would be their lack of nuance and/or hook. The tunes sometimes lack a punch or vigor — not to say they aren’t catchy; I’m just not shocked when they’re misinterpreted as stale. Small-time complaint concerning a big-time band. You can catch Ladybug Transistor at Marlborough Farms performing purposeful songs when amateur hour concludes — count on it.

Most Read