The Babies – Our House On The Hill

Rating: ★★★½ ·

The project between Woods‘ Kevin Morby and Vivian Girls‘ Cassie Ramone isn’t exactly a new project, but their newest effort for Woodsist seems like the side-project finally got some much deserved focus from the two core songwriters. Our House On The Hill is the perfect execution of sunny pop with a ramshackle approach, giving listeners exactly what we’ve been looking for since we first got wind of the band.

“Alligator” takes aim at my pop-centric heart almost immediately.  A ringing guitar accompanied by Morby’s sunny vocal approach definitely pleases, and when Cassie Ramone comes in for accompaniment midway through the track, I couldn’t have been happier.  It’s a simple tune, with fairly common writing, but it’s just the beginning of the infectious hooks coming from The Babies.  Immediately following you’re greeted by slow-walking, where Morby and Ramone take dead aim at bright pop by trading vocal duties back and forth. This is the track I longed for the group to create!

A few tracks ahead and you enter the realm of perfection with “Get Lost,” one of the standout tracks on Our House On The Hill.  This is definitely Morby’s track, and it’s his vocal performance that steals the show, though the low-key approach of the various verses just builds the tension for the group to blast off into a bliss filled meandering guitar affair to close out the song.  Just because there’s a hit like this laying in the middle of the record, it doesn’t mean there’s not enough interesting tracks to fill out the album exceptionally.

You can take “Mean,” which is mostly a one-man Morby affair, with the singer coming off with hints of Bob Dylan, both in the writing of the track and the vocal delivery.  Ramone’s quieted backing vocals only strengthen the track even more.  There’s also “Baby,” which belongs to Ramone, and definitely wears the mark of her other project, Vivian Girls, though there’s also similarities to Best Coast lurking in its structure and vocal delivery.  These are just a few of the various examples that mark this effort by The Babies, leaving you with an effort that doesn’t really repeat itself, though paces back and forth in similar territory.

Our House On The Hill is all over place, and in saying this, I’m meaning it as a compliment.  In combining the great songwriting attributes of Morby and Ramone, the record never really gets stale, and if anything, it only improves reveals more gems from listen to listen.  Depending upon your mood, you might light the sunny pop elements, but others might find themselves leaning towards the more stripped down tracks like “That Boy.”  Thats precisely why I think The Babies are so successful on this round, doing what they do best on their own terms, and excelling in every way.

 

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