Review Summary: The Weepies' unmistakable tendency to self-cannabilize is finally outweighed by their ability to make faultless folk-pop.
Husband and wife duo Deb Talan and Steve Tannen were never under-equipped in terms of potentiality and their capacity to make hook-laden folk-pop songs, but their uncanny proclivity to self-plagiarize hemorrhaged their listenability: their sophomore release 'Say I Am You' was a testament to said fact. In a deplorable case of monotony, 'Say I Am You' provided thirteen picture-perfect tunes that all sounded completely alike. However, with their most recent release - Hideaway - the two have taken their compositions into much broader and diverse territory; Tannen seems to have discovered a 'Let's Play Jazz Chords!' music theory book and exercises his warm voice more often than previously; Talan progresses equally by tweaking her strikingly memorable melodies to fit with the much improved song structures. While cuts that would've fit in benignly on 'Say I Am You' are still present in songs such as the languid 'How You Survived the War' and the jovial 'All This Beauty' ("All this beauty, you might have to close your eyes
"), they are tastefully littered around songs that do not sound exactly the same
, drastically improving the listenability of 'Hideaway'.
Opener 'Can't Go Back Now' highlights Tannen's new-found comfortability at the helm of vocal delivery whilst 'Wish I Could Forget' exemplifies his newly honed, lighthearted jazz-blues structures (the wonders of a few minor seventh and ninth chords are astounding). Vocally, both Tannen and Talan outpour their most accomplished effort to date, expanding their repertoire to include vocal layering and somehow improved harmonies (how do you improve perfection? Ask the Weepies!) while decidedly keeping their trademark catchiness fully intact. The always-happy poppycock and balderdash present on 'Say I Am You' has also been disposed of; 'Hideaway' isn't wholly somber - there are some very clear life-celebratory songs - but tunes like 'Little Bird' and 'Orbiting' keep the record from being asphyxiatingly cute, making the album as a whole much more digestible. Regardless of what you're doing or where you're at - rinsing the dishes, watching a CSI marathon - any given song on 'Hideaway' is applicable to your mood. 'Hideaway' is a record that works just as well when listening to one or two select songs from it as it does when listening to the album as a whole -- something none of the The Weepies' back catalogue can be accredited to. For all their efforts, the married duo warrants my complete praise: thanks for the brilliant album! Oh, and congrats on your baby!