Indie-rock band Sharks and Minnows transcends its emo roots on The Cost of Living, relocating to the deeper end of the musical pool. The second full-length release from this Atlanta quartet is still centered on emotional Sturm und Drang, but the overwrought pop punk of Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board is replaced by a more varied musical landscape which merges the early punk attack of Superchunk with the indie-pop sensibilities and witticisms of Beulah. The production is also markedly improved over the debut album.
There are loud guitars in abundance, but there’s also a Brian Wilson fan lurking somewhere in this band, and the sunny West Coast pop hooks of “Slow Learner” and “Past Life Regression” are pure gold. Lead singer Christopher Simony’s vocals are stronger and more assured than on Sharks and Minnows’ debut, and on “Saint of Anything” and “Cleopatra Song” he sings with newfound nuance and soul. With minimal filler, strong hooks, wonderfully noisy guitar work, and a nice DIY garage band aesthetic, The Cost of Living should appeal to fans of college radio. Hell, in a more equitable, less narrowcasted world, it should appeal to all fans of quality rock ’n’ roll.