Spins and Reviews | (Originally posted on 04.18.17)
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
The Hangabouts | Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives (Futureman, 2017)
Breaking all the rules of the difficult sophomore album syndrome–how to successfully follow up that first, smash recorded salvo has been a recurring music biz pickle since, well, name your favorite year–John Lowry, Greg Addington, and Chip Saam have earned a couple of days’ worth of rest-easy-and-exhale time while the world greets their new album (12 songs and a mystically-appointed piece of connecting tissue strong) as the triumph it truly is.
In other words, you did it, gents. Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives, the latest release on Keith Klingensmith’s bulletproof Futureman Records, is one of those coming together moments that pretty much defy gravity and scale somewhat effortlessly to the top of the pops. An Easter basketful of cleverly adorned melodic pop constructs, it’s a timeless collection that announces itself as your best friend, or at least a delightful neighbor whom you wouldn’t mind borrowing a cup of sugar from every single day.
Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives, rather a musical sort of title that you can tap your feet to (try it–you’ll see!), announces itself climbing out of a ’70s bag of tricks adorned with luscious harmony vocals; varying tempos; dreamy, hypnotic guitar lines, and a surprising soft slam on the brakes as the title song slides to a breathless close. “Twelve Songs” beats with a sweet, pure pop heart, even as it tells the story of a love that may never be (in a catchy, sincere, Fountains of Wayne kind of way).
Kits’ first single, the delightful “Sinking Feeling,” brought to life and a higher plane by the predictably lovely guest vocals of Swan Dive’s Molly Felder, who recently graced the grooves of Dana Countryman’s fabulous Girlville album, is a stone-cold smash and a shining example of how to write a living, breathing, catchy pop song. “Cricket Time,” an upbeat bopper imbued with the spirit of early Elvis Costello, snaps along for three minutes worth of should-be-a-radio-hit magic. And the really rather ingenious, insanely catchy pop wonder “Evelyn Wood” cleverly illuminates the story of a girl who needs to sloooooow down (listeners of a certain age will appreciate that the real Evelyn Wood was the creator of a reading comprehension technique that could get you from here to there in super-lickity-split time…so, not so slow was she).
Looking the dreaded sophomore album syndrome squarely in the eyes and dousing its flames handily, The Hangabouts have clearly crafted one of those hall-of-fame-worthy albums that have made this year a delightful one to observe, sing along to, review, and play on the radio. Which brings me, quite happily, to this: Pure Pop Radio exclusively premiered and played “Evelyn Wood,” “Twelve Songs,” and “Sensation Overnight,” a lovely ballad, on April 19 (thanks to Keith and the band). Six other songs are playing in rotation on a non-exclusive basis.
Now playing on Pure Pop Radio: “Evelyn Wood,” “Twelve Songs,” “Sensation Overnight,” “Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives,” “Cricket Time,” “Sinking Feeling,” “Selling Out,” and “Follow the Sunshine”
Where to Get It: Bandcamp