Saturday Looks Good to Me Every Night

[Polyvinyl; 2004]

Styles: indie pop, ’60s soul
Others: Beulah, Minders, Jens Lenkman

When asked about what inspired Saturday Looks Good To Me's Fred Thomas to co-opt so much reverb on his recordings, he often replies that "it's not the songs that matter, but how the music sounds." In the days of yore, Phil Spector apparently thought the same way, using walls of reverb, overdubs, and brass to amplify the sweet sounds of girl groups like the Ronnettes and the Shangri Las (and, unfortunately, the Beatles' "Long and Winding Road"). On 2002's All Your Summer Songs, Thomas took the idea to the next level, as he not only put a nostalgic tinge on the song's lyrics, but crafted a near-perfect update of the Spector sound that made even those who had never heard the legendary producer's work nostalgic for it.

For the group's latest album, Every Night, Thomas has put a new spin on things, this time in the creative process. After touring for part of 2003 and early 2004, a lineup solidified that has now become what appears to be the band Saturday Looks Good to Me (rather than the man and his friends). None of the members are newcomers, but the fact that the album was recorded in one place during one period of time is wholly evident. Chalk another one up to Thomas' ability to interpret location to recording. Where All Your Summer Songs was a lazy, hazy Sunday night when the whole past came flooding back in one giant gust, Every Night is the spontaneous dance party that broke out in the noonday sun.

Santana derivatives aside, this album is full of the pep and hooks that, in the golden days, would have produced mega hits. Brass roars through instrumental breaks, while twelve string, soaring vocal harmonies, and meaty drums consistently carry the quick-hit melodies through to their conclusion.

Benefiting from 40 years of tongue-in-cheek evolution, the songs are actually playful in both tone and lyrics, rather than love songs that take themselves too seriously sung by playful personnel. "The Girl's Distracted" is a great duet between Thomas and swoonster Betty Barnes sure to break the cute meter, and "We Can't Work It Out," whether it means to or not, is a very funny take-off on the self-conscious Beatles tune.

Some who enjoyed the first album may take issue with the fact that this album is a barn-burner. Instead of taking its time and leading up to huge resolutions, Every Night peels out around every turn, leaving only perhaps go-go dancing fools in its wake. It's far too fun not to love.

1. Since You Stole My Heart
2. Until the World Stops Spinning
3. Keep Walking
4. All Over Town
5. The Girl's Distracted
6. If You Ask
7. Empty Room
8. When the Party Ends
9. Dialtone
10. We Can't Work It Out
11. Lift Me Up
12. When You Got to New York