Boy do I love fun pop, and Calling You Out by Netherfriends fits the description perfectly. You can tell just by looking at the album art, among my favorites of the year. There’s a lot more going on here than just pop, though, as the eclectic percussion on tracks like “Nunya” and “Oh-Hi-Oh”, along with the supreme guitar accompaniment and tribal-esque vocals, are on par with groups like Panda Bear and, even more so, The Dodos. However, at times the similarities are almost too much.
The cake-taker is Calling You Out opener, “Friends With Lofts”. It lacks the blatant reference to those aforementioned bands and finds Netherfriends with a sound much more their own. As the song progresses horns join, then tonal vocal da-das and whistling. And, as it bows out, a bit of a surprise – a muted trumpet. “Really?” drops in clever melodies and has that same tambourine-heavy, snare-less percussion that, when present, fills practically every moment. And when the percussion is vacant – as it is selectively here – its absence draws the listener in even more.
“Mom Cop” lacks that rampant percussion and therefore seems a bit out of place here, though after getting over the initial shock of Is this the same band? one finds merit in the tune. And it only increases as the band launches into EP closer “Don’t Invite Me”; the excessive percussion is slightly muted and it becomes ever more apparent that these guys are finding their own place amidst their influences – and that place is a good one. Calling You Out is a wonderful introduction to a band that, even this early in the game, knows a few things: 1) how to have fun, 2) how to write a damn great pop song.
1. Friends With Lofts
5. Mom Cop
6. Don’t Invite Me