The Hush Sound's emphasis on mature, piano-driven pop makes them a rarity on the Fueled by Ramen roster, where the punk-pop sounds of Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco reign supreme. With songs like "Medicine Man" and "Honey," Goodbye Blues distances the band even further from their Ramen brethren, adding shades of old-timey swing music and torch song balladry to their catalog. Returning fans will still take comfort in the Hush Sound's usual mix of co-ed vocals and jaunty songcraft, but the group also shows a willingness to experiment that few of their labelmates possess. With pianist/vocalist Greta Salpeter at the wheel, Goodbye Blues opens with the aptly-named "Intro," an early morning ballad that sounds destined for playback on a Victrola, before launching into the snappy "Honey." The bouncing piano chords and semi-jazzy harmonies evoke a sense of 1930s Americana, and while that feeling has mostly waned by the album's second half, it gives the album enough momentum to sustain the weaker moments on Side B. Most of those limitations show up in the songs helmed by guitarist Robert Morris, whose vocals are certainly competent -- particularly when flanked by the harmonies of his three bandmates, all of whom sing -- but can't claim to be as unique or as endearing as Salpeter's throaty alto. The songwriting duties on Goodbye Blues were split, a result of the group's short-lived decision to disband, and Morris' contributions can't quite rival those of his bandmate. With a breakup looming on the horizon in 2006, Morris and Salpeter scrambled to write their own songs, intending to use that material to launch their respective solo careers. The Hush Sound ultimately stayed together, however, and those solo tunes became the building blocks of their third album. So while Goodbye Blues is one of the most mature releases in recent Ramen history, it's not altogether cohesive, with Morris' songs all but banishing Salpeter's piano in favor of guitar-based progressions (and, by extension, banishing the one thing that helps the band truly stand out). But when the bandmates are on -- when Greta Salpeter leads her boys through the sexy stomp of "The Boys Are Too Refined" and the poppy big band strains of "Medicine Man" -- they come across as the co-ed equivalent of Jack's Mannequin, which is worlds away from being the sibling band to Straylight Run.
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey