Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Review: The Davenports “Why The Great Gallop”

Indie pop/rock
Building on the pop craft of their two previous critically acclaimed records — “Speaking of The Davenports,” and “Hi-tech Lowlife” - “Why the Great Gallop”, produced by Charles Newman (Magnetic Fields), means serious business. The Davenports are also known as the writers of "Five Steps," the theme song to A&E's Emmy-nominated program Intervention. “Five Steps” was also featured on an episode of South Park, “Crippled Summer.”

Now the Brooklyn band, lead by Scott Klass, returns with a new album. The latest video for the single, "Thinking About You, Maryann", sets the stage for the story encapsulating the record. The tale revolves around a fellow named Christopher, who is enduring a rough breakup with his beloved Maryann. Despite all the torture he has been through, he is bewildered at how much affection he still has for her. Unlike most concept albums, the songs on “Why The Great Gallop” stand alone just fine – but don’t play this one on shuffle because the storyline is linear and too clever to miss.

The record is a grower, but Klass has one of those gentle rasps (reminds me of E from The Eels) that makes it easy to want to replay this one. “Why The Gallop” begins with the appropriately titled, “Christopher Stars”, which is a light-hearted pop confection, and “Anything From Amelia” quickly follows as another sunny and energetic treat. “Something’s Gonna Get Us” grooves with breezy acoustic guitar and some subtle space-age sound effects, all leading up to a hooky chorus that is the “something” that will get you. “Hanging Out With Dave” and “You’re Not Comin’ Round” (check out the ragtime break!) are additional highlights. There’s also a host of beautifully crafted ballads enriched with strings, well-placed to break up the string of more upbeat numbers. The story comes full circle with the closer, “Thinking About You, Maryann”, with a gentle fingerpicking and understated vocal that masterfully balances melancholy with nostalgia.

Check out The Davenports if you like Belle and Sebastian, Fleet Foxes, or the lighter side of Fountains of Wayne.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12

The Davenports on MySpace. Official site.

Video for “Thinking About You, Maryann”: