The Swivel Chairs

The Slow Transmission

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The second full-length by the Swivel Chairs is power pop the way it used to be a musical generation or so ago: say, between the release of the dB's' Stands for Decibels in 1981 and Cotton Mather's Kontiki in 1997. Unlike many contemporary power pop acts, songwriters Jason Brown and Jeremy Grites have little interest in slavish devotion to trying to replicate the sound of their musical idols. Those songs that do recall earlier acts (the dreamy "All at Once" has a strong Let's Active vibe, not least because Grites' breathy tenor at times sounds shockingly like Mitch Easter's) seem to do so either by accident or by virtue of shared musical antecedents: the Swivel Chairs have no evident interest in being the Rutles. The overall vibe of the album is low-key verging on mellow, but the songs' carefully detailed arrangements, clever hooks, strong melodies, and varied emotional moods, along with neat changeups like the spacy two-minute instrumental "Clockwise," keep The Slow Transmission from sounding like one deadened midtempo shuffle after another. Instead, this is a mature, intelligent pop record that's both a clear step up from the Swivel Chairs' earlier albums and proof that there's life in the pop underground yet.

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