With their long-labored debut Football Money, Canadian indie quartet Kiwi Jr. continue a long lineage of a very specific brand of smart, ennui-riddled pop. Lyrically, the songs are overstuffed with observational references to confused post-college flailing and small town boredom, while the music follows the same wistful jangly catchiness that grew more snotty and surreal as it was passed down from Felt to Pavement to Parquet Courts. At the core of each catchy, upbeat tune is one of vocalist Jeremy Gaudet's depraved narratives, jam packed with psychedelic references ranging from childhood memories of a stabbing in a church to Brian Jones' swimming pool. The album's ten economic tunes are equally jam-packed with nonstop hooks. "Salary Man" sways with a woozy dreaminess borrowed from Orange Juice as Gaudet paints lyrical pictures of uncharged cell phones and drunk businessmen sleeping it off on public benches in suits and polished shoes. This slide show of bizarre imagery is guided by airy 12-string acoustic guitar that melts into fuzzy distorted leads. There are group shouts celebrating an eccentric friend on "Leslie" and an ode to a dead-end town on "Nothing Changes," all delivered with an ecstatic punk push that's on par with the first Modern Lovers record and with weird poetic lyrical asides akin to the earliest Silver Jews material. The piano-heavy "Comeback Baby" nods to the vocal harmonies and succinct songwriting of the Kinks, filtered through the reaching melancholy of Brighten the Corners-era Pavement. It's one of the few moments on the album when Kiwi Jr. isn't blasting through intellectual pondering with keg party enthusiasm, but it's no less catchy than the upbeat material. The album rushes by in less than a half-hour, but demands repeat listening. Like the best of their slacker-pop influences, Kiwi Jr. manage to just barely conceal the meticulous design of their album behind a nonchalant disposition. Excellent songwriting and a surplus of surprising melodic ideas and lyrical wit can't be outshined by the band's deceptively loose approach.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas