It could serve as an alternate to Air's The Virgin Suicides soundtrack, if the movie had a different ending in which the sisters didn't kill themselves but instead moved to Denmark to shack up with an indie band and then killed themselves. "What if we had a chance?" Hjelm sings on "Childhood Verse." "I promise together we'll die."
Hjelm goes on to channel Brian Wilson in "The Air We Breathe," which, with its backing harmonies, sounds like an outtake from the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (Capitol, 1966). On "Good Old Friends," Neil Young comes to mind: "Not sure what to leave behind / But I know we'll be all right," Hjelm sings, the phrasing and sentiment feeling like Young's line in "Tell Me Why": "Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself / When you're old enough to repay but young enough to sell?" From here the band moves on to "Drunkard's Dream," which opens with a sort of indie-ized send-up of Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious," though the metronomic snare hits contrast with the funky guitar lines, making the track more akin to art rock à la Television than Wonder funk. "Bee Dee" centers around an "up the stairs and down again" guitar riff and has a looser, Feelies vibe, while the keyboards in "Cheap Place to Spend the Night" move from rollicking Farfisa to tinkling celesta.
Overall, while conceptually satisfying, the cinematic feel of Deer is not quite the pure pop bliss of Skeleton. Maybe it's a bit homogeneous, rife with ethereal keys and moody vocals. Maybe our Danish Fab Five have been influenced by the resurgence of folk. The back-cover photo is a cross between a Little House on the Prairie still and a Flying Burrito Brothers portrait, sans rhinestone suits: two Figurines are wearing suspenders, and they each have a questioning, somewhat obsequious look on their face, like they're about to collectively ask, "Howdy, stranger, can we get you a sarsaparilla?" But the record is ambitious, signifying the band's willingness to change its sound with each release and not just hammer on what's worked in the past. From their humble beginnings in ham shanks and clog dancing, Figurines dream big bigger than I do, certainly.
Mon/15, 9 p.m., $10
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF
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