Personnel: Sean Glassman (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Matt Miller (vocals, guitar); Brian d'Alessandro (vocals, drums); Paolo Codega (vocals).
Recording information: Seaside Lounge, Brooklyn, New York; The End, Brooklyn, New York.
Certainly named with the beach in mind, Coastgaard bring more of their solidly crafted pop tunes and sunny, guitar-centric sound to their sophomore LP, Devil on the Balcony. Surf guitar tones, early rock rhythms, sweet backing harmonies, and plenty of delay are along for the ride, but so too are later-'60s organ sounds and contemporary Brooklyn dreamy atmosphere. The most retro track on the album is probably "A Well Adjusted Man," a catchy surf rocker that could nearly be straight from a '60s band-musical film. Most of the song collection, though, borrows and blends from the '60s, '90s, and 2010s for its own contemplative, summery identity. Lyrics cover topics like challenging romances and problematic personalities, so the human experience adds some gravity to balance the generally merry sound of the music. Lead singer Matt Miller's vocal tone should also be noted, as he brings both warmth and wistfulness to the affair. Another consistent attribute of Devil on the Balcony is timeless melody, such as the particularly robust one on album opener "Ruminator," which would suit Cole Porter, Bob Gaudio, or Jens Lekman equally well (and also suits Coastgaard). Not without a dynamic melody but excelling more as an exploration of atmosphere, the ambitious "Killer Swan" uses swirling guitars, sustained keyboards, and delay, along with oohing background vocals, to affect a different kind of a drama. The record is nostalgic for certain, but rarely comes off like a tribute band. Recommended for connoisseurs of classic pop, indie textures, and sweet melodies -- particularly all at once -- it begs a top-down (tops-off?) weekend spin. ~ Marcy Donelson