Saturday Looks Good to Me – All Your Summer Songs

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

On the list of all the things I expect from Saturday Looks Good to Me, ontological questions do not rank. Yet, here we are. This is technically SLGTM’s fourth album, I believe. But the first three had such constrained releases that they were basically impossible to find. All Your Summer Songs is on Polyvinyl, which, while still a small indie, at least has some effective distribution, arguably making this the first reasonably available SLGTM album. So, if your albums cannot be found or purchased, do they even count as albums?

What I Think of This Album

Uh, the first song has no title? It’s not even titled “Untitled.” On the track listing, next to the numeral 1, it’s just blank. I guess I should be grateful Fred Thomas mustered the willpower to title the remaining 12 songs. With few exceptions, this baker’s dozen of tunes is very appealing.

“Ambulance” reappears in a fuller, duet version and while a great song no matter what, I much prefer the original. “The Sun Doesn’t Want to Shine” is a somber, Thomas-sung tearjerker that he doesn’t really have the chops to pull off. The same problem infects the title track as well as final song “Last Hour,” which otherwise would’ve been a nice and sparkly little number. This is the sum total of the disappointments on the disc.

Everything else is great, relying on Thomas’s exceptional lyrics, accomplished melodic sense, and production techniques borrowed from Phil Spector and Berry Gordy. We also get a lyric sheet, which I always appreciate, though it is out of order, which I always disdain. 

“Meet Me By The Water” and “Underwater Heartbeat” share an aquatic theme, but little else (apart from great melodies and charming vocals). The former is wrapped in an echoey, reverb-heavy beach towel, featuring some dub-like effects, and the latter is neat, horn-flecked Motown pastiche nearly undone by an unconvincing “fucking” thrown in for no reason. 

“Caught” is delicate as crystal, and one could imagine the Crystals singing it. I believe it is Detroit hero Matthew Smith (Outrageous Cherry) who sings lead on the excellent “No Good With Secrets,” which could actually work very well as an Outrageous Cherry song (minus the strings and twinkly percussion). Possibly the best song here is “Alcohol,” with a surprisingly nasty guitar tone that will clear your sinuses and some Zombies-esque drumming, as well as horn accents and a fine vocal.

Putting up a good fight for the crown on this album is “Typing,” a tender, broken-hearted ballad that the vocalist delivers with an expert mix of sadness, empathy, and sweetness, against a backdrop of woodwinds and lightly clattering drums. Janglified “You Work All Weekend” frankly needs a better singer than Thomas, but even his pitchy performance can’t distract from the song’s excellent melody, construction, and arrangement. Amateurish voice aside, Thomas’s talent is undeniable and galvanizing.

This is all the more apparent on the bouncy, Motown meets Spector “Ultimate Stars,” with a violin spine upon which the (many) other instruments depend, a James Jamerson bass part, and a critical tambourine element.

This time, the credits actually identify the musicians by contribution. Which is helpful when there are 28 of them, including 11 vocalists. Among the vocalists are the aforementioned Outrageous Cherry mastermind Matthew Smith, Tara Jane O’Neil (Rodan, the Sonora Pine), Karla Schickele (Ida), Elizabeth Mitchell (Ida), Erika Hoffman (Godzuki, His Name Is Alive), Jessica Bailiff, Cynthia Nelson (Naysayer, Retsin), and Ted Leo. Warn Defever (His Name Is Alive) helped with mixing.

The Best Thing About This Album

The melodies sound good to me.

Release Date

March, 2003

The Cover Art

I don’t love it but i think it’s fine. Love the polka dots and the pointilist graphics. The yellow is okay, though the rest of the colors don’t work for me, and I think the composition is a little weird. I also hate the font – very disco.

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