Thank God for irony. Vancouver’s Young and Sexy are Paul Hixon Pittman and Lucy Brain. They may or may not be sexy, but they’re certainly getting older, and they’re not particularly happy about it. They mix dreamy pop atmospherics and multi-layered angelic harmonies with electric guitar bursts and slowly building songs that aim for late-’60s Brian Wilson pop symphony territory. Amazingly, they often find it. Pittman writes great keyboard-driven pop songs, Brain sings like Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries, and together they harmonize beautifully. Because of the unconventional song structures, it may take a couple listens to uncover the bright pop heart of these songs, but it’s there. There’s also a lovely and haunting melancholy, and Pittman perfectly captures the tension of being just this side of 30, more rootless than one would have ever expected, and just as unsure as ever. On the exquisite “Weekend Warrior,” he sings, “You’re old and bitter / And just out of your teens / But you’re out of dreams.” He concludes the album with, “We’ve got lots of petty fears / Like what am I doing here, and where will I be tomorrow? / We’re young and sexy.” As the perfect anthem for Gen Y, or whatever we’re up to now, it certainly works for me.
There are a few awkward moments, though. An unfortunate early-’80s Journey-REO Speedwagon jam breaks out midway through the otherwise dreamy “One False Move,” and a couple songs are so dreamy they induce sleep. But this is a good to great album, full of smart pop songs of shimmering beauty and depth. Instantly approachable and endlessly surprising, Life Through One Speaker sounds very fine.