City of Subarus

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The best thing about Tullycraft's City of Subarus is the album's title, and that's not usually a good sign for any band. The shy, gently sarcastic themes from the band's previous album Old Traditions, New Standards are in place, but the music and the lyrics are simply not as memorable. That earlier album was filled with songs that were easy to sing along to, such as "Josie," "Mental Obsession," "Superboy and Supergirl," and the charming, showstopping "Pop Songs Your Boyfriend's Too Stupid to Know About." The songs on City of Subarus are certainly cute and sweet as the twee genre dictates, but they lack the catchy factor by which lo-fi indie pop succeeds. There's something lacking throughout the album, as if some little piece of magic is missing. With both Tullycraft and Crayon, frontman Sean Tollefson was able to conjur up ample doses of magic in the past. The songwriting here lacks the level of polish of his past efforts. There's no fault to be found in the production; "Miss Douglas Country," "Vacation in Christine, ND," and virtually every track shines when it comes to the production's shambolic, lo-fi glory. Maybe "Actives and Pledges" works for Tullycraft and for the band's fans in a live setting, but the band simply isn't conveying the energetic pop passion the song and all of the songs demand. The best track and one of the few signs of life is "The Lives of Cleopatra." Its fuzzy keyboards give it an enjoyable indie trip-hop vibe, and even though Tollefson barely shows a thread of energy, it's a fun, yet sad, reminder of the kind of gems he produced prior to this album. "Vacation in Christine, ND" is perhaps the only song that indicates Tullycraft was once a twee pop master, but for some odd reason, it's much more lo-fi than the previous nine tracks. Even when Tullycraft gets the songwriting right on City of Subarus, some element keeps the music from being compelling. It's an album best left to die-hard fans of the band, and ultimately an extremely weak link in the twee pop chain. City of Subarus is a disappointment.

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