Lullatone: Summer Songs

Every now and then, a new collection of Lullatone's self-described “pajama pop” appears to add a little joy to a world increasingly dragged down by debacles of every conceivable kind. Never has the music of Yoshimi and Shawn James Seymour been more welcome than now and never has it sounded sunnier either. Of course, no one would expect otherwise from an EP titled Summer Songs, and as if the message wasn't clear enough, the two have provided a laundry list of corresponding activities to go along with the recording, among them: lying by the pool, taking hammock naps, spraying a friend with a garden hose, cruising on a skateboard, eating dinner outside, making funny sounds while walking around in flip-flops—you get the idea. Welcome, in other words, to Lullatone's never-ending world of child-like fun and good times.

Recorded at home in Nagoya, Japan, the twenty-two-minute EP presents eight high-spirited songs crafted by instrumentalist Shawn and singer Yoshimi. One thing that is noticeably different about the new material compared to earlier Lullatone recordings is a pronounced ‘50s and ‘60s vibe. The opener “Cannonball Splash,” for example, includes electric guitar picking, organ, and drum playing straight out of a raw ‘50s rocker—not exactly the kind of thing one associates with Lullatone—while “Splitting a Banana Split” backs Yoshimi's breathy coo with doo-wop vocals also emblematic of an earlier era. Otherwise, the songs are as joyful as anything in the group's discography. Dressed up in glockenspiels, toy flutes, ukuleles, whistling, and organ, rollicking tunes like “Hot Sand,” “Race Against the Sunset,” and “Grocery Shopping for a BBQ” evidence no small amount of gleeful rambunction.

The Seymours are as lyrically and instrumentally playful as ever (“Secretly Loving the Smell of Suntan Oil,” for example, includes singing and tongue clicks provided by eight ping pong players from a local club). There's little room for despair in Lullatone's universe, with the wistful melancholy of the last song “Still Feeling the Waves When You Go to Bed” the closest the Seymours get to anything of a downspirited nature. As per usual, Lullatone's universe offers a refreshing respite from the ever-darkening gloom of the so-called real world.

August-September 2013