After a teenage debut of light tunes and young person angst, Avi Zahner-Isenberg returns with another fistful of catchy melodies and dreams. At 23, fear of a normal life might be, well, ‘normal’ and in his video for So What, the opening track on the album, he readily escapes into his music with an eye on his laundry and an ear for a tune.
A sweet, melodic Californian sunshine runs through the album like cream in a layer cake – jangling guitars and melodies inherited from old Beach Boys records as if they have been hanging in the air there in Long Beach with the avocado trees, just waiting to be picked. But it’s not just the melodies that draw you in, it’s the parallel hope and despair. You would have to be a real sour misery guts to dismiss his honey soaked innocence – every indie kid in the world these days has a real sense of the world as a dangerous place. (This kid comes from Long Beach where notorious scary gangs hang out, he knows the world is a threat). It’s almost like he is giving us the antidote to trouble with his soft, sugar flavoured fantasy cooked up in his bedroom while down the street other kids are doing crack.
Whether all this is true or not, he sounds natural and he can’t get away from his own sweet voice even if he wanted to. It’s high and effortless, casually curing his and our ills, directing his band mates towards his vision. It’s an album for the optimistic from the battle ground of suburban America, but like the Beach Boys one hopes that on a musical level he evolves in the future. The reason I say this is because it’s one of those records that sounds simple but isn’t – interesting chords, thoughtful arrangements, clever guitars and sonically realised.
Humorous lyrics like “I ran over two dogs, then I ate them after, think it’s going to happen again” (Think It’s Going To Happen Again) or “A man carrying an oxygen tank is gonna come kill me and my family too, if I don’t stop seeing you” (Oxygen Tank) remind you of the crazy things that young boys say to freak out their parents, but you know what – he’s only joking and I know that his Mom loves him, he couldn’t make a record like this if she didn’t.