Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter jeremy messersmith was working on what was supposed to be his sixth album, Late Stage Capitalism, when the 2016 presidential election happened -- or more specifically, when the unexpected outcome happened. Deciding that his fans and the nation at large could use a dedicated pick-me-up, he set those songs aside and wrote and released 11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs for Ukulele: A Micro Folk Record for the 21st Century and Beyond, an album with a cover illustration of messersmith with a ukulele and four kittens. He returned to Late Stage Capitalism in mid-2017, releasing it in early 2018. It turns out that the album, though more down to earth, was never going to be a downer, consisting of bright and bittersweet tunes that draw heavily on '60s sunshine pop. As the title suggests, lyrics do tackle contemporary socioeconomic woes, but they also address humanity and matters of the heart. "Monday, You're Not So Bad" could have been released by Chad & Jeremy, or maybe the Monkees or Herman's Hermits, with its sweet, patient melodicism and harmonic wistfulness. Even the song's lyrics seem to long for a vernacular from the past with lines like "Saturday is overrated/Friday night is a drag/Sunday morning's heavy coming down." Meanwhile, "Happy" reckons with consumerism, deciding that money probably can't buy happiness by the time it reaches a chorus suitable for a Beach Boys-Partridge Family collab. Elsewhere, "Jim Bakker" takes on hypocrisy with playful rockabilly, and "Postmodern Girl" is a quiet bossa nova with acoustic guitar, vintage keys, flute, and the Postmodern Girl herself, who of course speaks French. Full of breezy melodies, lush chamber arrangements, and a light touch on anxious topics, despite its delay, Late Stage Capitalism manages to be both timely and timeless.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson