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Modern Skirts Fail to Irritate or Impress

by Archives February 17, 2009

The sophomore release All Of Us In Our Night is the Modern Skirts’ follow-up to their debut album Catalogue of Generous Men. Containing 12 Brit-rock inspired tracks, All Of Us In Our Night is a pleasant collection of low-key pop songs that continues along the path beaten by the mellow, amiable 2005 debut.
Formed in 2004 in Athens, Georgia, the Modern Skirts achieved prominence on the local music scene before embarking on several tours, which involved opening for R.E.M in Europe. Jay Gulley, JoJo Glidewell and Phillip Brantley contribute on guitars, piano and vocals, and along with drummer John Swift, create accessible songs that ooze with influences from Sloan and Ben Folds. Laden with vocal harmonies, the sunshine-pop sound is reminiscent of The Beach Boys and The Beatles, while the lyrical curiosities can be compared to those of The Decemberists.
Their piano-driven compositions (on tracks like “Yugo” and “Like Lunatics”) sound polished and straightforward. Led by Gulley’s soothing vocals, the songs are catchy, upbeat, and uncomplicated in rhythm and instrumentation. The opening track “Chanel” showcases the Modern’ Skirts’ surf-rock tendencies, while “Soft Pedals” skips along cheerily, backed by fluttering electric piano.
The relatively sparse and melancholy “Chokehold” is followed by the bright and airy Ben Folds-reminiscent “Radio Breaks.” On songs like “Face Down” and “Eveready” the Modern Skirts traverse into alt-rock territory and demonstrate their youthful spirit, with these fresher, more engaging numbers.
“Conversational” is backed by occasional booming percussion, while the doo-wop sound of “Astronauts” is driven by a couple guitar chords, casually strumming along between vocal harmonies. Offering a thoughtful, low-key exploration of love on “Mrs.,” the album ends with the electronic, synthesizer-heavy “Like Lunatics.”
All Of Us In Our Night is unobtrusive and sweet. In fact, so much so that The New Pornographers seem hardcore in comparison. Modern Skirts are as far from in your face as you can get. They are so firmly parked in neutral, that it’s virtually impossible to form an opinion of dislike about them. Their music is neither innovative, nor groundbreaking, yet it is charming enough (along with bands like Earlimart, The Explorer’s Club or Apples In Stereo,) wields a smiling nod of detached approval.
Modern Skirts are four good-natured Southern gentlemen who are unassuming in their ability to create unpretentious, relaxing music. Not a far departure from their vanilla debut, All Of Us In Our Night is a polished continuation of the same subdued thread that runs through the Modern Skirts’ compositions.
Showing their ability to create pleasant pop songs, while maintaining some degree of sonic variety throughout the record, the Modern Skirts offer us a gentle, engaging album of sunny, peppy songs. Giving the impression they are four hard-working, honest guys who put considerable amounts of effort to bring their compositions to life, one can’t help but root for their success.
They will take part in this year’s SXSW showcase in Austin, Texas, where dreams of musical grandeur come oh-so-close to fruition.

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