Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Happy Detective: New 7" From Portland's Favorite Font

Attention CIMTB readers: the chamber pop ensemble New Century Schoolbook, in which our own Amber Dawn Loranger holds the position of first flute, will be releasing their new 7" entitled The Happy Detective tonight at the Artistery. I have already had the privilege of hearing this new release with mine own ears, and its 3 molodic and slightly moody tracks will definitely appeal to fans of 60s-influenced indie pop.

The songs' blithe melodies and carefully charted arrangements draw obvious comparisons to Spector-produced tunes of yore, but often songwriter Jonny Askew eschew's straightforward 60s phrasing in favor of a more urgent, modern lyrical aesthetic. There's also an intriguingly complex dimension to these sunny-on-the-surface pieces.

The title track transplants a sense of frustration into a happy-go-lucky pop shell, repeatedly building from a peppy but gentle electric piano riff into an impassioned accusatory rant: "They can call you a savior/well I'll call you a crook!" while still leaving room for a soothing flute interlude.

The second track, "Icebergs," is a brief track featuring baroque intertwining of flute, guitar and keyboard beneath a tale comprised of equal parts romance and tongue-in-cheek doomsday imagery.

The abrupt staccato ending of "Icebergs" foreshadows the driving beat of "The Vetting Process," featured on the disc's B-side. This song grafts a prosaic verbosity onto a catchy tune, creating a musical middle ground between the Ronettes and a Gilbert & Sullivan patter song, and driving straight into a cathartic keyboard-heavy instrumental breakdown.

This release is a brief but impressive sample of infectious, skillfully arranged and thoughtful tunes, and should leave listeners anxious for a future full-length release.

New Century Schoolbook plays tonight with Wow and Flutter and Paper Brain at the Artistery.
4315 SE Division St.
8 PM
All Ages

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