In their decade-plus existence, Saturday Looks Good To Me has never taken a typical path: endless line-up changes, shifts in sound from lo-fi 60's pop to experimental noise rock, a twisting discography heavy on one-off singles and bizarre package tours with afrobeat and freakfolk bands.
In 2012, bandleader and songwriter Fred Thomas returned with a fresh new line-up, including new vocalists Carol Catherine and Amber Fellows, but also with old friends from previous SLGTM incarnations like bassist Scott DeRoche and drummer Ryan Howard showing up for the fun.
The band's fifth proper album, One Kiss Ends It All, came together following the group's first tour after getting back in action, however the four years since their last full-length weren't spent cultivating this new batch of songs.
Instead, a spontaneous and breezy vibe flows through the album's 12 selections, drawing on the reference points of 60's pop and early indie rock, all filtered through the band's skewed pop lens.
Thomas' songs are always bittersweet, but short, uptempo rockers like "Invisible Friend" and "Break In" recall the open-hearted running melodicism of New Zealand kiwi-pop while more groove-oriented numbers like "Polar Bear" or "Sunglasses" meld electronic elements with the same sharp-edged attitude of the first Strokes album.
Even former SLGTM lead vocalist Betty Barnes (who now lives in Sweden) sings lead on two tracks: the doo-wop piano lament of "Negative Space" and the spare indie rock road trip "The Ever-present New Times Condition".
Saturday Looks Good To Me's albums in the early 2000's (All Your Summer Songs, Every Night) predicted the reverb-saturated production and girl-group revisitations that indie rock would embrace several years down the road.
One Kiss Ends It All expands on those early lo-fi marvels and feels more like a revelation than a continuance.
With more sophisticated arrangements and melodies more direct and engaging than anything the band has ever done, the album feels like re-telling the details of a dream minutes after waking. Something new colliding with something that shouldn't make sense in a beautifully strange collage. And always more details hidden in the corners.
..this Motown-stomping, horn-embellished confection is the type of listen that can lead to another.
For over a decade now, Fred Thomas has mined the aesthetic of 1960s girl groups and Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, but each new release the band puts out feels fresh rather than formulaic.
..although it’s been four years since SLGTM’s last release, the band didn’t spend all that time lamenting each and every creative decision. Instead, they allowed the twelve tracks to take shape spontaneously.
...Thomas and his 15 collaborators lovingly craft 12 richly layered but never precious songs which burst with invention, melody and surprising saxophone, all underpinned by chief singer Carol Catherine's appealing melancholy.
1One Kiss (1:34)
2Invisible Friend (2:18)
3Empty Beach (3:22)
4Negative Space (3:19)
5New City (3:10)
6The Everpresent New Times Condition (5:03)
7Break In (3:00)
8Polar Bear (3:16)
9Are You Kissing Anyone? (1:40)
12Space Children (6:17)