How better to close out summer than with the rumbling odes of Boston’s SARALEE. As veterans of the Allston basement scene (RIP Butchershoppe, Gay Gardens), this guitar-drums duo of Sara and Lee craft charmingly simple, unpretentious tunes that strike a deep chord. With a disarmingly direct approach and raw sound, the group recalls the bright lights of the 90’s indie-pop tradition such as Beat Happening, but with a serrated edge and resigned stoicism that reverberates in today’s aimless, cacophonic soundscape.
After a couple delicious demos, SaraLee have finally released their first full length, an eponymous LP off Cambridge’s DIY pride RIDE THE SNAKE RECORDS. The album is a continuation of their rough and tumble sound, aided with a cleaner production that goes to show these guys don’t rely on the ‘lo-fi’ aesthetic to get their point across. SaraLee recall the exhilaration and emotional tumult of surf rock, yet are bereft of any explicit sonic tropes that characterize Dick Dale era-instrumentation or the hazy garage pop revival of the last decade. Instead, they are a surf band of the heart, one that channels the rapidly changing emotional currents into propulsive streams surging ever forward towards the sea.
The stark instrumentation and organic, loosely flowing style make for an emotionally arresting combo. The swelling tempo quickly rises and falls in tempestuous bursts above a deep, earnest undercurrent. The drums roll and crash with a driving tidal rhythm as jangly sharp guitar chords pummel on the beach of disaffection. Themes of isolation, disappointed relationships and the ebb and flow of life’s tribulations are communicated with biting clear insight in singer Sara’s cutting croon. All this makes for a strangely sober yet profoundly stirring mood, one that paradoxically provokes both quiet introspection and a passionate desire to escape it all in those fun, fast moving rhythms. Like swimming in a stormy sea, one both feels the empowering exhilaration of wrestling with nature, and the humbling acceptance of being swallowed in its immensity.
SaraLee play a kind surf rock for the land-locked, music fit for a goldfish energetically swirling in its lonely bowl, yearning to be flushed – if only to be closer to the sea. SaraLee are on tour all of October, traveling up and down the East Coast with Midwest buds GIVING UP. They’re releasing a split tape on Sophomore Lounge for the occasion, so catch ’em while you can.