Pop production is a funny thing in indie circles. It's often greeted with derision, sometimes suitably so, but it also can be wielded like one hell of a deadly weapon in the right hands. While some stuffy purists will always prefer the stripped-down sensibilities of a girl and her guitar and her coffee shop, others fearlessly forge different paths and head for the hills where all the dials, whistles, bleeps, and blorps live.
In the case of House, the new record from Le Concorde, simple songs meet elegant production and the bells and whistles are gloriously celebrated.
Multi-instrumentalist Stephen Becker's effort is fizzy pop with enough hipness to satisfy the genre snobs. It could be argued that Le Concorde is tracing down roads often travelled, but that seems hardly Becker's concern as he embraces the glossy, fluttering synth with gleeful abandon.
It's refreshing to see the unashamed hug of tender, bouncy pop in this day and age of cynicism and derision. Even the most sincere forms of rock, pop, jazz, whatever get polluted by our all-too-human predilection of insolently crossing our arms and frowning.
Yet Becker bathes in it, cranking out a bold earworm with "Who's Ever Gonna Feel Sorry for Us." It is unapologetic in its ability to make grown-ups shout-sing the lyrics while sitting stranded in traffic on the way to work. Le Concorde has absolutely no problem with the manipulation of a perfect melody and absolutely no interest in pretentious pandering.
"Kisses with Comet Tails" has more of that nasty insubordinate delight, hooking up a wave of breathy pop that may have some remembering Savage Garden.
"Make Our Move" exists in similar space, trotting out an anthemic synth vibe complete with sassy New Wave guitar and loads of layers.
House opens with the soft whispers of "The Movement of Cherry Blossom Shadows (Day Version)" and closes by shutting things down with "The Movement of Cherry Blossom Shadows (Dusk Version)." The latter is a classy late night cruising song. It plays with the underpinnings of the opening version, of course, but Becker builds things with a thumping groove and some full chords.
For some, the fun of House will be in sorting through the tracks for different meanings and textures. For others, the fun will be the movement. Becker has created rebellious pop in that it isn't afraid of itself and it doesn't feel the need to hide behind the smug walls of "better" musical forms waiting for a particular trend to cycle back around to the cool kids.