Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin are easy to like, but they’re unlikely to be anyone’s favorite band. They’re a little too unassuming for that: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin write simple, unadorned pop songs. Classifying them as indie is difficult since, beyond their unwieldy band name and reasonably lo-fi take on things, their songs are generally catchy and devoid of pretense; lumping them in with groups that tread the indie/pop dividing line like Death Cab For Cutie or Mumford & Sons doesn’t really work, either, for they lack the sheen and blindingly obvious choruses of those bands. Nope, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is white-bread in the most pleasant of ways – amiable strumming patterns, fractured harmonies, and a staunch allegiance to the major key has served them well over the course of three proper albums, and if they’re not adventurous enough to turn heads, they’re generally an agreeable listen for the rest of us.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (heretofore SSLYBY)’s Tape Club is an interesting listen for two reasons: 1.) It’s not a proper studio album, but a compilation of unreleased material culled from hundreds of archived recordings, and 2.) While a far cry from “dark”, the 26 tracks collected on Tape Club largely forego SSLYBY’s predilection towards summery pop music in favor of tracks that evoke the crisp atmosphere of autumn. Perhaps its the timeliness of its autumnal feel – Tape Club drops smack in the middle of October, just when the season is in swing – but Tape Club feels just right, the perfect soundtrack to a lazy fall afternoon or a walk through an apple orchard.
Of course, given their agreeably low-key nature, SSLYBY rarely elevate themselves above the level of mere pleasantry. And that’s fine – there’s something to be said about music that’s unconcerned with challenging or filling you with awe, instead merely happy to exist and to sound nice – but it means that standouts are in fairly short supply. The jaunty “Bigger Than Yr Yard” boasts some nice countermelodies towards the end; “Half-Awake (Deb)” is a pleasant little Guided By Voices-echoing lo-fi power-popper; the demo for “What’ll We Do” from the band’s self-recorded debut Bloom enters the Sunday afternoon folk realm of Iron & Wine; “We Can Win Missouri!!” reminds of the halcyon days of ’90s alternative with its Pavement melody and early Barenaked Ladies guitar solo. Over the course of these 26 tracks, SSLYBY are rarely less than pleasant, although the distorted vocals and bratty punk chorus of “Song 1000” certainly derails some momentum, and the heavily produced “Bastard of Rome” can’t be bothered to go anywhere interesting beyond its workaday central riff.
Still, Tape Club is a bit short on true earworms, the aforementioned tracks and Fountains of Wayne-worthy power-pop standout “Letter Divine” (your new indie-pop mixtape standby, mark my words) aside. Fortunately, with its length and the brevity of its songs (the lion’s share of these tracks don’t even approach the three-minute mark), Tape Club foregoes virtuosity in favor of consistency. In their best moments, SSLYBY conjure up Guided By Voices, The Jayhawks, Guster, and Fountains of Wayne; in their worst, they’re simply nice to listen to, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As a warm, sprawling seasonal soundtrack, Tape Club works nicely.