It's not disco, to be sure, and doubtless that's part of the point. But on the group's second album, what the Inner Banks have going for them as an indie rock band in 2009 is not sounding like an indie rock band as stereotyped at that time -- there's no sense that music for them started with the Shins, that it all has to be about vaguely hooky power pop without the power (or too often, the pop). If anything, there's a sweet spirit that echoes down from a different tradition, via 1990s Swedish indie pop and the High Llamas and even older avatars like the Marine Girls and Antena. It's not that there's a sweet naïveté per se present on Songs from Disko Bay, just that there's a spirit of lush serenity, something that obviously nods to the endless late-'60s Beach Boys revival without sounding like it in full. It helps that singer Caroline Schutz has her own soft, swooning style, in the vein of the late Mary Hansen, that suits songs like "Pyramids," but on a song like "Blame" her absence lets the lush, intricate style of the performance as a whole come forward all the more. Meanwhile, the arrangements from David Gould song for song refocus what the lead instrument is each time, ranging from the concluding textures that make the opening "Lemon Tree" a striking beginning to the intricate acoustic guitars and prominent bass on "Come Back" to the piano on "Tournament of Wives," weaving among the backwards feedback and slow, steady pace of the drums.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett