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Irving - I Hope You’re Feeling Better Now

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Artist: Irving

Album: I Hope You’re Feeling Better Now

Label: Eenie Meenie

Review date: Oct. 27, 2003

Everything that was good about Irving’s cheerily titled debut Good Morning Beautiful came from the homage they paid to the legends of guitar pop: a riff here, a baa-baa there; a chord progression that’s been in circulation since the late 1960s; a melody that makes you think of Beulah, the Beatles, or the Kinks. This is not to say they ripped off anyone, just that their inclusive all-five-member approach to songwriting has swallowed much of the last 45 years in pop structure and mashed it up into something familiar, lovely but limited.

The new EP I Hope You’re Feeling Better Now starts out with an enormously catchy melody in “The Curious Thing about Leather” that owes everything to the Beatles (and The Apples in Stereo for proving that the Beatles can be translated to the indie scene). Building upon a slow, lolling beginning that outlines the structure of the song and a few lay “Aahs”, the quintet jam for the briefest of seconds – this is extended into a free-for-all feedback laced roar in their live performance – before diving into that charming melody that sells the tickets. In the verses we’re told of a desperate wannabe starlet named Cynthia Weston who may be the sunny grand-niece of Eleanor Rigby. The chorus is nicely obscure: “Sunday morning traffic came and pushed you down to another place / Where all the conversations bear your name”. After a couple of repetitions and two bridges, the end is eminent, when we return to the chorus in a slow, melodic sigh…but wait, the melody may have a little more life. The boys bring it back for another round, belting it with horns to stretch the song past the six-minute mark, and letting it all hang out with a grand finale of bombastic brass and baritone. It’s the cute little dog from around the block that just won’t stop following you.

The obvious influences do their work on the rest of the album as well. “The Guns From Here” is a slice of a vaguely ‘80s organ riff perched atop the retro guitars of Blur. We get the sense and structure of Big Star and Teenage Fanclub in “White Heat”,where the distortion’s turned up to a pleasant “7” for mesmerizing power pop. “I Can’t Fall in Love” sounds like the American version of Belle & Sebastian, and “Please Give Me Your Heart, Is All I Need” gets down and dirty in fast-paced verses before halting for a slower, chanting chorus, a la Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died” and REM’s trendy freak-out “It’s the End of the World As We Know It”. Their attention to pop styling is quite apt, and if “summer’s love turning cold” bounced over the tops of upbeat guitar riffs is all you’re seeking, you’ll have no complaints about this EP.

Perhaps it’s not quite fair to a band that achieves the mimicry of pop genius so well to hear every song as their “Belle & Sebastian song” or their “Beulah song.”. After all, most of the bands they riff on weren’t doing their own thing anyway. But what is lacking here is the adherence to one ethos that allows us to sink so deeply that we forget the influences. As long as Irving continues to pick and choose the styles, fans may not let them forget who’s really earning the royalty checks.

By Joel Calahan

Other Reviews of Irving

Good Morning Beautiful

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