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The Morning Benders
Big Echo - Rough Trade
FILTER Grade: 87%

By Kirsten Kosloski on April 6, 2010


The Morning Benders

Sounding like the lovechild of Brian Wilson and James Mercer, this Berkeley, California, quartet is heavy on charm and unapologetic when it comes to its worship of pop masters, both past and present. It’s not easy writing a good pop song. In fact, doing so successfully is a balancing act between youthful indiscretion and balls-out confidence. Whereas the band’s well-received 2008 full-length, Talking Through Tin Cans, took a quick out-of-the-gate approach to songwriting, Big Echo unfolds at an unexpected leisurely pace. Opener “Excuses” is both “ba-da-da-dum” naïve and surprisingly ornate, sounding equally at home on a sunny college campus as in a velvet-draped music hall. Breaking new ground with the help of producer Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear), The Morning Benders have grown from playing taut three-minute melodies to sophisticated chamber pop with a focus on ambiance and layered harmonies. Are they maturing? Definitely. But we all have to grow up sometime, and when we do, one hopes to do it this well.

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