by Jennifer Graciano
Prior to giving The Babies a listen, I figured that this part Vivian Girls, part Woods band would sound like some hazy, lo-fi, weird pop-psychedelic, funky-folk-fi act, and that I would hate it. I was wrong. The material released by Vivian Girls’ Cassie Ramone, Kevin Morby of Woods, Nathanael Stark, and Justin Sullivan, or side project dream-team: The Babies, is nothing like that. Their self-titled release on Shrimper comes after two singles, “Meet Me In The City,” and “All Things Come To Pass,” which led to a lot of attention for the four piece.
First on the album, “Run Me Over,” has an enjoyable guitar melody, some enticing basslines, and great percussion that rounds off the song nicely. It’s a very energetic track with just enough messiness to keep it interesting. The rest of the album follows in this same rhythm; most songs barely reaching the three-minute mark, killer percussion, and pronounced bass.
Ramone and Morby share vocal duties throughout, keeping most of the songs from straying into the dangerous realm of redundancy. The two switch on and off, or one takes control of an entire track, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Ramone’s lead on “Wild 1,” and “All Things Come To Pass,” gets slightly dull and begs for Morby to step in and add some backup. While I can appreciate the spirited lyrics on “Wild 1,” I simply can’t get into the vocal work that hardly reflect the lyrics being sung.
But that doesn’t ring true for every song on the album; “Meet Me In The City,” is a great track with a completely infectious chorus that will have you chanting along for days. It exemplifies everything The Babies are capable of: making fun and lively music that doesn’t need a whole lot of reading into. “Breakin’ the Law” is pretty tame for its defiant title and makes it apparent that their strongest songs are the ones where both Ramone’s, and Morby’s, vocals are clearly present as they compliment each other quite nicely. Both “Personality,” and “Voice Like Thunder” are too short for my liking (each under two minutes) the first being a tirade of “I got personality/but you wouldn’t know” with some searing guitars and garage worthy noise, and the latter, a slower ballad. “Sick Kid” is similar to “Voice Like Thunder,” a drawn-out take with both singers sharing the spotlight and a hypnotic backdrop on loop.
Regardless of any qualms I may have had with this album, I loved it. With its unquestionably catchy lyrics, and dance along melodies, there’s no denying that the album is entertaining. It’s somewhat difficult to accept that listening to parts of this album became a chore, an addictive one at that. It’s.. fun, good music, and there’s no need to obscure or complicate that.