Catalogue of Generous Men
(Go to Your Room)
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10
Written by Melissa Stroh
The members of Modern Skirts still have a doe-eyed, baby-faced look about them, and, while at first glance, the group might appear to be a run-of-the-mill, piano-driven, pop-oriented outfit, there’s more to its music than initially meets the eye. On its debut Catalogue of Generous Men, the band effectively has turned its inexperience into an advantage. In fact, its songs, about the gloriousness of fall days and moving out west for a girl, are so carefully crafted that they become immediately ingratiating. Even the bad times seem to be laced with a silver lining. On the album’s opening track N.Y. Song, for instance, front man Jay Gulley’s distinctively slurred vocals glide over the top of a simplistic piano progression, and it subsequently is impossible not to follow him on a journey through the streets and subways of New York City. The ensemble so effortlessly conjures its worlds, that the listener is drawn into them without even knowing it.
Part of Modern Skirts’ success can be attributed to its lyrics. Tracks like Pasadena and Save Me showcase the conversational approach that the group took with its material, and although this is a feat that other bands have attempted but failed to achieve, the Modern Skirts makes it work. Whenever its lyrics do falter, Gulley’s passionately convincing delivery keeps them from sounding trite.
While Modern Skirts isn’t afraid to strip down its music to just vocals and piano, it also doesn’t shy away from building up its arrangements to their full capability. As a result, the peaks and valleys of Catalogue of Generous Men go hand-in-hand with the unpredictability of the fall season. One track is cheery, full, and bright, while the next slowly descends into the darkest depths. Yet, even the saddest songs on the effort have a place and a purpose because the contrast between hope and hopelessness is precisely what makes Catalogue of Generous Men so magnificent.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box