If you listen to Dana Buoy’s debut album and it sounds familiar, then you might be a fan of Akron/Family, which he was a percussionist for previously. Akron’s self-titled debut album (a personal favorite of mine) was a great exhibition of what that band would be, and if Buoy’s debut Summer Bodies is telling of things to come, I’m quite alright with that.
Lefse Records describes Summer Bodies as a “vibrant dedication to the joyous feelings of summer love.” This comes through sometimes over-sentimentally, but also viscerally and contemplatively. This description states the production of this album began with “hopeful love notes left on an answering machine in Oregon [that] were late crafted into an album in a bungalow near a jungle lagoon in Thailand.” I have no idea what Thailand sounds like, but apparently this is what it sounds like to Buoy; he calls the genre this album contains “Tropicore”. Oddly to me it sounded quite American and not at all like the travel and tropics that Buoy claims influenced him. Perhaps this is because the record was cleaned up and completed with live and synth instruments and iPad-ing in Brooklyn, where its completion involved surviving Hurricane Irene (I watched Netflix and drank beer pretty much that entire weekend; Buoy was apparently much more productive with that time). Maybe that storm is Tropicore too.
To get down to specifics, the single and second track of the album “Call to Be” is half catchy and delightful, (utilizing a variation of the always-great ‘Canon melody’) and half noisy, reminiscent of Akron. The next track “So Lucky” is dazey, while the fourth “Satelite Ozone” indulges some in a New Wave sound, flaunting some great synth melodies in the chorus and echoed percussion following a sweet, falsetto bridge. The fifth track “Come My Side” was a little too much of a lover-lullaby for me, though maybe I’m too cynical and bored for it. Thankfully (for me) after the mushiness of things take a noisy turn for the well-placed interlude track “Untitled 1” track, which features muffled and distorted flute sounds, and feeds well into the raw opening of “Delicate Suitor”. As some muggy strings drone in the back, the melody mimics Buoy’s vocals and a harpsichord-type instrument comes in like music for a ballroom dance that soon turns into a summer party. The song is forward yet patient, like an actual ‘delicate suitor’ perhaps.
The eight, “Hand Over Hand”, is lovely—and likely my favorite song on the album. It reminded me of Delta Spirit’s earlier stuff (P.S. both Akron/Family and Delta Spirit have great Daytrotter Sessions that I recommend), and has a slight country twang to it, with Buoy’s cleaner and smoother vocals floating above it (pun intended) as it does in many other songs. The next song, “Futures Part” comes in a close second or third place for favorite, tied with the final track “We on the Sea”. “Futures” is full of such goodies as slightly-off rhythms, two-part melodies, music-only chorus, and sparse verses that emphasize the fuller parts of the song. The penultimate track, “Best Around” didn’t do much for me, but it served as a nice transition to “We On the Sea”, which is sweet and reflective: a simultaneous wave hello and goodbye.
Since I’m judgmental, I was unsurprised to find myself feeling tepid about this album then warming up to it and appreciating the pop and indie nuances as well as the well-done flow of songs on Summer Bodies, (though some tracks I liked much more than others). I will be putting it into my rotation of 2012 Summer Albums. Ah, season albums. An album you can listen to all the way through or on shuffle or repeat. Familiar and comforting yet distinctive, with songs that remind you of moments; the way the sky looked, the air smelled, and being felt: the soundtrack to a time and a place in your life. I think Summer Bodies has the potential to do that for me.