Kelley Stoltz

Circular Songs

BY Eric HillPublished Feb 5, 2008

If you’re going to go retro, this is how it’s done. Stoltz isn’t coy about his ’60s forbearers; instead he aims for the heart of the three-minute miracle that is a pop song. While he doesn’t shun the Beatles’s touchstones, he spends more time working the margins of playbooks from Love, the Zombies and the Box Tops for his pop hooks. On tracks like "To Speak to the Girl” (running time: three minutes), he nails everything — the upswept bass hook, seesaw rhythm guitar, background handclaps, the acoustic 12-string bridge and harmonica extro. He even wedges in arty bits like the Velvets’ "ching, ching, ching” and Bowie’s saxophones on "The Birmingham Eccentric.” And there isn’t a dud amongst the other 12 tracks. The fact that Stoltz, with a little detail help from friends, records everything himself makes it all the more impressive. His previous Sub Pop release (this is his fourth full-length overall), Under the Branches, got praised but mostly disappeared from the public radar. Let’s hope that quality trumps buzz this time around.
(Sub Pop)

Latest Coverage