Don't judge an album by its cover. The hyper-pigmented mouth might seem to promise an album's worth of needling electric guitars and manic drum machines, something along the lines of a Flock of Seagulls-type revival band, but thankfully this isn't the case. Say No! to Being Cool. Say Yes to Being Happy is actually the indie pop equivalent to a litter of kittens -- it's squirmy, cuddly, thoroughly sweet stuff. And it makes a lot of sense once you figure out that this is another one of Ron Fountenberry's projects. Like his former band, the Incredible Moses Leroy, the Softlightes have an extremely comfortable sound, and there's something to be said for that. This is Flaming Lips lite. This is Elf Power strapped to a vocoder. This is power pop with saccharine vocals à la Brian Wilson, only shot through with a healthy dose of synthesizers and robots -- lots and lots of robots. Did we mention the robots? To put it another way, listening to Say Yes is like eating a bowl of marshmallow fluff. And this is where listeners will be divided. There will be, for example, a number of people who'll find Say Yes so sugary that they'll have to put it down after the first few tracks. The others (let's call them the "Ice Cream for Dinner!" camp) will find loping love songs like "The Ballad of Theo and June" and "Heart Made of Sound" positively nourishing. And who can blame them? There's a lot to like about Fountenberry's light, well-crafted pop songs, especially when it comes to the rocking, vocoder-stained antics of "The Robots in My Bedroom Were Playing Arena Rock" or the click-blippity sweetness of "Girlkillsbear." It's soothing, accessible music with enough intelligence and quirkiness to appeal to the indie crowd -- whether it'll find its way off of the shelf after the first spin or two, though, isn't clear. One thing is certain: those first few spins are delicious.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Margaret Reges