— from Chicago —
Very Truly Yours
Things You Used To Say (2011)
If the latest release, Things You Used to Say, from Chicago indie pop group Very Truly Yours is to be summed up in one word, it would be “cute”. I’m talking puppies playing, kittens mewing, baby sea turtles trying to walk on land “cute”.
Released earlier this spring, Things You Used to Say is filled with such sweet, soft pop that it gave this reviewer a toothache -- but in a good way! From the precious girl-bunny in a pink tutu on the cover of the album to the burst of pink and purple posies on the inside, the entire album is like one big happy sigh from your heart.
Every song on the album is filled with delicate soprano and alto harmonies from lead vocalist Kristine Capua and her airy backing vocalist Katie Watkins. Very Truly Yours takes the light, dainty vocal sounds from bands like The Sundays, Mazzy Star, The Murmurs and mashes them together with whimsical song structure from bands like The Cardigans, The Softies and adds touches of Motown with lots and lots of xylophone.
Very Truly Yours opens their album with “I’d Write You a Song”. It’s an upbeat, chimey number filled with handclaps, show choir harmonies and organs. But Capua almost whispers in her little girl voice, “I’d write you a song if I had to, but I don’t know what I’d say. I’d have to imagine you went away.” (Insert collective “Awwww!” here). Capua threads these slightly melancholy yet still innocent lyrics throughout the album, and they are a nice contrast from the overtly adorable music.
You can really hear an indie-Motown sound on the album’s second song, “Homesick”. Capua melts herself even more in the background and becomes more of an extra instrument in the song as opposed to a lead vocalist. She draws out the harmonies a bit more at the end of every lyrical phrase with Watkins reminiscent of Diana Ross and The Supremes on a much quieter level.
The song “Puddles” is about as precious as it gets on Things You Used to Say. Lisle Mitnik takes the lead with his guitar, bringing in a little ‘50’s pop. Drummer Andy Rogers also moves to the foreground with his beat, becoming more of the backbone to the song and really giving a focused drive. I do like the dreamy style of Capua, but sometimes she does need a little more grounding in her songs. Otherwise, I fear she’d float off in to the clouds a pink balloon. Using Rogers in a song like “Puddles” helps to keep her feet on the ground.
Capua’s vocals are also a little too soft at times – not her voice itself, but the actual mixing volume on the track. The result is that on record, it sounds like she doesn’t have a very strong voice, but what she does have she uses so well. In many songs on the album, I feel like she is hiding in her music. I really want to hear her as a vocalist. Often her voice hiccups or she cracks on notes, but it only emphasizes her as a unique voice so much more. It suits the music and makes her a distinctive vocalist, rather than just another girl singing in the mic.
Capua puts a little more “umph” into the album’s title track. Bassist Dan Hyatt dons the guitar on this one, turning it a pinch more toward an older country/western sound. Watkins focuses more on her piano playing in this one with a light, happy beat that could almost take the place of the drums.When you break the album down, it’s very impressive. Taking very unexpected elements from songs and vocals and putting them together has made Very Truly Yours a talented band. In the future, it might benefit them to move away from blatantly endearing and stretch themselves into some different sounds. However, this band is full of real talent, It’s freaking precious.
Very Truly Yours
the bass guitar
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