REVIEW BY KELSEY WHIPPLE
A Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin concert is like a quick lesson in controlled cuteness. Things never approach the levels of neo-power-poppers Rooney - the Springfield band is much too clever for that -- but the quartet skims pretty close to the heartfelt indie-pop of Voxtrot. When you think about it, it's hard to match the sunny nature of lyrics comparing a break-up to the Pangea theory of plate tectonics -- even as you wish you'd thought of it first.
Last night's show at the Billiken Club followed typical SSLYBY form: It involved local Missouri boys singing songs about Missouri local girls, earning local applause and spreading some universal good cheer. Two albums in and with a third in the works, SSLYBY has been there, done that -- which makes the general chemistry behind small Missouri homecoming shows like this one even sweeter.
After a rather mindboggling argument between the two men behind me - they were trying to determine who looked more like Michael Cera, a friend of theirs or SSLYBY bassist Jonathan James -- the band launched its set with a charming but somewhat aloof version of "Oregon Girl." While its music is in constant flux between regretful and reflective, the guys always have a certain chipper poise when beginning a hometown show.
"We're going to be rolling out the hits," singer John Robert Cardwell then joked, before introducing "Pangea." "Here's another classic gem." Indeed, SSLYBY's set was divided rather gloriously (if strangely) into first album hits from Broom followed by the most popular songs from Pershing, divided every once in a while by unreleased material. This latter category included a darkly fun song called "All Hail Dracula," a half-serious, half-ridiculous song about, you guessed it, the king vamp himself. (As for the quality of that song, I echo the disembodied shout which came from the venue's front left corner: "Hell. Yes.")
As might be expected from a band that has played the Billiken Club several times before, SSLYBY looked comfortable and in its element. Despite issues with mic volume and some nervousness about new material, the band's frenetic indie-pop hit power-pop levels when fed over a crowd that knew exactly when to clap ("Think I Wanna Die"), dance ("Glue Girls") and feel silent angst ("Anna Lee"). The guys put in just enough effort to work up a sweat, if not quite enough to make much of the audience do the same.
The band's songs are the very definition of short and sweet -- so short that it might take longer just to say the band's name, after all. Which is totally fine: The guys of SSLYBY have made a career on staying true to their roots, and the fact that lyrically those roots border on precocious -- to the point of being twee -- only makes them more relatable.