By: Will Lamborn

“I could fill, up, the rooooom, with these things I’ve been thinking about you,” howls Fred Thomas, lead singer of and principal creative force behind Saturday Looks Good To Me.  This catharsis preludes the emotional desolation of the ten tracks that follow, and ratchets up the intensity a mere 90 seconds into Fill Up The Room.  SLGTM indeed fill the space (or earphones, as the case may be) very capably.  Though delivering a less deliberate tip of the hat to 50s and 60s pop than on previous releases, SLGTM has created a fully realized record brimming with melody and melancholy, where folky moodiness bleeds unassumingly into bouncy pop.

Fill Up The Room jumps around far-ranging styles and influences.  Opener “Apple” offers remnants of doo-wop filtered through bleary-eyed guitars that approach My Morning Jacket levels of reverb, before breaking into the irrepressibly catchy, danceable pop of “(Even If You Die On The) Ocean” and “When I Lose My Eyes”.  The latter winds into an extended guitar interlude, that unfurls into drawled, semi-slurred melodies and sha-la-las evocative of barroom drunks swaying through a last hurrah.  These three songs frontload the album with some of its most memorable moments, but later tracks hold their own as well, especially the simplistically ethereal, waiting-for-dawn-to-break lullaby “Peg”, and more uptempo numbers “Edison Girls” and “The Americans”

Thomas is a fine wordsmith, and his cohesive lyrics pile water and mountain metaphors (perhaps well worn but in this case effectively employed) upon imagery of unrelenting sinking, mortality, and burial.  Uneasiness permeates the songs and comes to suggest impending disaster.  Even while at their most unabashedly poppy, SLGTM doesn’t ignore these lurking menaces; “Ocean” closely paraphrases Leonard Cohen’s famous resignation that the ship is sinking, it’s utterly hopeless, and yes, everybody knows. 

However, given such stifling loss and finality, they find that there may be a degree of comfort to be gained by filling the room with song. “Whitey Hands” proclaims, ‘Sing into your hands until everyone understands’, as hands buried in snow only a few songs before slowly rise heavenward, as mirrored on the album artwork.  For SLGTM, bemoaning widespread fatalism is daunting but not entirely without hope: ‘When I lose my eyes there will be something more/something my vision was far too afraid of.

Thomas’ voice strains on high and mumbles down low, quivering around the notes it eventually clings to.  He is joined by chorus of background vocals that is unpolished but in the best possible way; they provide whimsy in appropriate doses, but also chime in with affecting sincerity at just the right moments.  Thomas’ urgent delivery makes it seem as if he’s trying to squeeze just one more word into each sentence and sentence into every paragraph.  With so much to say from atop a sinking boat, he and his cohort try to get as much out as possible before the water fills their lungs, and revel in the process. 





All opinions expressed by Will Lamborn are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.


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