Its been a ripe couple of years for bands looking back fondly on the less fetishized corners of 80’s pop. While any given band will always be around to amp up the Ian Curtis angst, there’s a strange seduction to Wyatt Blair aiming to make Kenny Logins’ bravado cool again or Mac Demarco seeking to make the silky slide of Yacht Rock relevant. Admittedly the later has never held much sway for me, but Melbourne’s Cool Sounds seem to be taking a tack on that bent that lands more Real Estate in boat shoes than Demarco’s Hall & Oats with an Alfred E. Neuman smile. Cool Sounds’ ranks swell to a hefty six members, but they augment their sound amply with a healthy dose of sax and atmospheric keys which seems to warrant the packed van load. And while their influences, which they file under “jazz gaze” (probably not a term that should stick around) skew decidedly closer to John Hughes soundtrack territory than actual lite FM strains or anything that might actually have a connection to jazz, the end result is pleasant in a way that winds up calm, but not dull or wallpapery.
In fact, along those John Hughes lines, this whole record could serve as the soundtrack to a nice coming of age drama. They have the pining down, the emotional punch of those sax and synth lines is shined to perfection, and somewhere, someone is running through the rain waiting for a Cool Sounds track to underscore their teenage world crumbling to the floor. They filter in just enough of The Wake-style jangle to keep things this side of cheesy, but on songs like “Heartbreak” one does find themselves looking around for Andrew McCarthy or Anthony Michael Hall to pop around the corner and wrap up the whole record with a trite one-liner that shrugs and mugs for the camera. However, since we all have to live life without montages to clean up our messes or perfectly crafted dialog to win over our crushes, I suppose we’ll just have to imagine that Cool Sounds can rub off enough cinematic ennui to get us through the day.
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