Everybody knows; that’s the way it goes

The new Saturday Looks Good to Me album, Fill Up the Room (out October 23 on K Records) is probably my most anticipated album of the year. I was lucky enough to give it an early listen.

Initial thoughts:

Nearly every song evokes a sense of déjà vu. This isn’t because the songs are formulaic or repetitive, but because they are familiar and consoling. They sound like songs you’ve been hearing your whole life, on long car rides, on the AM radio, and while you graze on fruit on lazy Saturday afternoons.

Compositionally, I was expecting a great pop album, but it only made it about halfway there. Most of the songs on Fill Up the Room are jangly ballads with quick tempos, but stop short of the dynamism of All Your Summer Songs (which I consider to be the band’s crowning achievement) or the sweetness of Every Night. I was really hoping for more dreaminess, but the album ended up sounding a lot more like it was recorded in a garage, or at a live venue than a studio. Ultimately, the album is pretty catchy. I'll need to give it a few more spins before I really decide what I think of it.

One caveat: I have much love for Fred Thomas as a songwriter, but I really wish he could keep a band together long enough to sustain a consistent female vocalist. Erika Hoffman was really awesome on all of the albums on which she appeared. Hearing her voice still gives me shivers. Betty Marie Barnes is a pretty good alternative, though her voice isn’t nearly as ethereal. Anyway, the point is that Fred’s songs sound much better with the addition of airy female vocals than when he sings them, even though almost everything else is perfect. Not everyone can be a singer and a songwriter.

In other news, you can buy SLGTM’s Cold Colors EP (which just came out in July) on your choice of pink or white vinyl or CD from Polyvinyl Records.


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