Original Writeup

Couch Jackets’ new album Spud v Cancer defies expectations, sonically and lyrically

by Dean Tartaglia

This Little Rock, AR, indie-pop band show they can do what many modern bands can’t — which makes their latest album frankly refreshing.

The subject matter alone on Spud v Cancer — Couch Jackets’ new album about their bassist beating the disease — merits this band more praise than most.

But even if you don’t know that on first listen, this record is still highly engaging. Every track drips with palpable essence, something absent in many modern bands who come across as flimsy copies of yesterday.

With an effortless mix of good indie-pop melodies, catchy hooks and visceral moments, Couch Jackets forgo rehashing nostalgia and actually sound modern, with tight chemistry to boot.

“Fake Internet,” my favorite first moment on the record, reminds me of the best underground indie-pop bands from years past, though with a twist.

Standing out from the start is the song’s instrumentation and use of space. The mix pumps without sounding junky, and their use of orchestral instruments — weaving saxophone and strings throughout — alongside electronics doesn’t compromise the band’s live chemistry.

Each genre-bending aesthetic choice, like having yacht-rock and punk vocals seamlessly sitting together, is simply showing off the bands’ soulful substance. 

Simply put, Couch Jackets have a knack for thwarting your expectations, but with heart.

A lot of times, bands will write songs that sound like entirely different artists from track to track on an album — especially young ones who haven’t honed their craft enough to know who they are.

Couch Jackets are not that kind of band. They’ve got a special knack for surprising listeners by manipulating expectations, with much more ease than a number of contemporary bands I’ve heard.

I have to give a special shout-out to the drumming on this album as well. Our generation has slowly let click-adjusted drums move the goalpost for what the drummer’s role is. But this album’s drumming is all feel, no slop — a beautiful feat!

Overall, Spud v Cancer has heart. Each subsequent listen to Couch Jackets’ new album will reveal a new favorite track. It’s a record that sets a high bar for today’s indie pop.

Stream Couch Jackets’ new album.

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