Pitchfork: On first listen to their new album, Let It Sway, SSLYBY sound like they're done fucking around in the minor leagues, newly invigorated after the 2008's innocuous Pershing. "Back in the Saddle" backs up the mission-statement intent of its title, a sturdy foundation of anthemic guitars both folky and power chord-driven, support a carousel of alternate-reality radio melodies. The song actually demands to be heard, as does the the effortless "Sink/Let It Sway" and the infectious, huge "na na na" chorus on "Banned (By the Man)".
MusicOHM: Musically, Let It Sway is a pitch-perfect balance of SSLYBY's previous aesthetics; it's got Broom's often charming feigned simplicity and smile-inducing catchiness, but it's also another in a series of steps forward in songcraft signalled (if a bit miscued) on Pershing. Lyrics range from referencing Lewis Carroll (Phantomwise), music criticism (Critical Drain), vampirism (the grungy All Hail Dracula!), and solitude (In Pairs, in which Phil Dickey laments: "Not all god's creatures come in pairs, you know."). But heady subject matter is no match for Let It Sway's nearly constant barrage of good feeling.
The Skinny: Like a breath of fresh air, tracks like Back In The Saddle or the anthemic Banned (By The Man) are invigorating blasts of pretension-free, spirit lifting frivolity in a sometimes turgid world of chin-stroking beats and dirgey guitars. Yeah, you may feel a little embarrassed if a couple of trend-setting mates drop by mid-listen, but that'll say more about you than the Yeltsins.
Sputnik Music: It's a shame, because as SSLYBY have continued to expand their sound the genre that they were a few years late to has already grown past them. James Mercer is off doing things with Danger Mouse; Ben Kweller was indulging in alt-country last go-around; most of the Elephant 6 bands are either off getting freaky with themselves (Of Montreal) or spacing out (Apples in Stereo). If the band doesn't start catching up to their peers, they're going to end up a lot more like their misbegotten namesake than they would probably prefer.
Let It Sway is out now via Polyvinyl.
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