I feel like a hypocrite for enjoying Hooray for Earthís second album True Loves when I criticized Vivian Girls for the same tactics ó essentially taking some past style of music and eating the flesh off its corpse. Thereís no getting around it ó Hooray for Earth is derivative. First, thereís the í60s reverb-heavy production thatís at the source of a lot of contemporary music, and in the wake of more dynamic songwriters like Panda Bear and Grizzly Bear, thereís really nothing particularly novel or compelling about it. And then there are the keyboard sounds, which remind me of growing up in the í80s. (Maybe itís just the nostalgia ó if I had grown up two decades earlier, Vivian Girls may have struck the same chord.)
Thereís probably still room for a novel mash-up involving these two trends, but aside from True Lovesí title track, Hooray for Earth doesnít quite nail it. Some songs lean heavily in one direction, some the other (ďSameĒ is almost straight out of Tears for Fears or something like that). ďTrue LovesĒ finds a nice balance, and if Noel Heroux and Co. ever figure out how to walk that line for more than a few minutes, Hooray for Earth could be quite good. As it stands, I enjoy it for what it is.
A younger audience with a shorter memory might find True Loves a bit more intriguing. Itís a function of age Ė Iím sure if I was a thirtysomething when Pavement came out, I might have thought SM and Spiral Stairsí mixture of post-punk and classic rock was derivative of The Fall. Point is, you can be derivative (everyone is) and still produce memorable songs. Malkmus and Kannberg had great songwriting chops that were immediately apparent; Hooray for Earthís tunes feel unadorned, as if theyíre emulating a sound instead of writing a song that comes from within. Then again, Iíve never understood why anyone would release a pop song that isnít overpowered by hooks.
Itís more than just being able to write a good hook, though. Thereís plenty of disposable music thatís catchy. If one is going to do something like take a number of styles and incorporate them together, there has to be a more fundamental truth to the music than just some post-modern Dr. Moreau-ing. We can do that all day Ė some guy in Brooklynís probably combining Reggaeton and that Bulgarian Womenís Choir as I type. Maybe the results are cute or clever or worth a post on The Daily What, but if there isnít that sense that the artist has put himself or herself truly into the work, then the results come off as ephemeral. Hooray for Earth certainly arenít as frivolous as this imagined asshole Iíve made up (he also ironically carries around a bullhorn), and their sound is likely more a subconscious result of whateverís in the cultural air rather than some deliberate attempt to cash in. If anything, thatís the problem Ė instead of forging a path of their own and making something with an internal truth, Hooray for Earth sounds like itís a product of the times. Thatís not necessarily a dig Ė how many people can truly transcend their circumstances? Ė just an explanation of why I donít find True Loves that engaging.