Not since the L.A. punk band X has an ex-husband and wife team
such good music together.
Although Quasi consist of Sleater-Kinney
drummer Janet Weiss and ex-Heat Miser member Sam Coomes
was a melodic indie-rock band that also featured Elliott Smith),
plays music that is very reminiscent of either of those bands.
they go for a unique blend of pop music that sounds like every
tune that has come before them, but that has no obviously
reference points or influences.
As with their debut album, R&B Transmogrification, the
instruments seem to be various distorted, vintage organs. But
their debut album, Coomes and Weiss have dumped much of the
noise doo-doo that occasionally stunk it up. Thank God. Not that it
ruined R&B Transmogrification, it's just that all that noise left
less room for the ultrabeautiful melodies that made the album so
Those pretty melodies are back in full force on Quasi's third album
(their second long-player). Although things get off to a noisy start
during the first 30 seconds of "Our Happiness Is Guaranteed" (the
track), the remainder of the song is pure pop satisfaction -- the type
you can't get out of your head, even after you chase it with three
hours-worth of listening to minimalist composer Steve Reich's
With an equally hummable chorus, "The Poisoned Well" highlights
contradictions between the sweet melodies and the bitter lyrics
lurk just beneath the surface. Coomes begins by singing, "You
the one you love/ that may be true/ but better said you only hurt/
who loves you."
With a title like "You Fucked Yourself" and a running length of two
a half minutes, you'd expect a raging punk song rather than the
bouncy, glittery kind of music that your parents might have heard
amusement-park ride when they were young. And the instrumental
Success Can Fail Me Now" sports an upbeat melody and
title. On "I Give Up," Coomes sings over an "All You Need is Love"-
Beatles melody: "So now I need to find a way to occupy my time/
day I die/ I give up/ I give up/ it's gone so long/ it's gone so wrong."
Jeez, these people have the highest chipper melody-to-downer
ratio since the Smiths, though -- dare I say it -- they are more
consistently listenable than those icons of misfit '80s youth.