Pearlfishers Sky Meadows

Sky Meadows begins by welcoming a newborn into the world and ends using the transience of a touring carnival as a metaphor for the passing of youth. The Pearlfishers’ David Scott has been threatening for years to assume the crown of Most Benevolent Man in Pop, and here, on the band’s fourth album, he takes his newly acquired headdress and goes to town. Scott is an avowed student of early ’70s AM radio pop — a time when the sentimentality of Paul McCartney and Bread was rightly perceived as a testament to assumed manliness, rather than a blow against it. Like fellow Scots Teenage Fanclub and BMX Bandits — with whom he often collaborates — he’s learned well, maintaining a tightrope walk between aesthetic reverence and his own thumbprint. So, while "Saddle Sore” might conjure Todd Rundgren aspiring to the wracked melancholy of Brian Wilson and "Haricot Bill and Bean” the epic wistfulness of Jimmy Webb, Sky Meadows ultimately sounds like the Pearlfishers. And it’s a joy. (Marina)