I’ve had this record sitting on my desk for a little while just because I love looking at the cover. It reminds me of my childhood with the way it looks like a wrapper from a tootsie roll pop complete with the elusive arrow pointed at the star. You know the one. I’m pretty sure the image isn’t as elusive as we were being led to believe but I remember the excitement I would get when I would find that image and think that it meant good luck. But I digress, what I’m trying to say is there’s something nostalgic about this cover and I was stoked to finally take a listen.
“90’s Kids” kicks this album off in a perfect way. Remember that whole nostalgia feeling that I got from the cover? That was exactly what I got from this opening track. Not only did the title of this song speak to me, but the way it’s presented gave me waves of bands like Koufax, Hot Hot Heat, etc., you know, the indie-pop bands from back in the day that had something fun and unique about them and never got the credit that they really deserved. What I’m trying to say is I was caught by this opening track and couldn’t wait for the album to move on to “Moz Disco”.
“Moz Disco” amps things up a bit while being very distinctively Coupons. Sure, this is only the second song, but there’s something very distinct and unique about this band that is infectious. This poppy track has a beat that will get stuck in your head instantly and will have you bouncing around whether you have the energy or not. The same can be said with “Expectations and Plans” even though the vibe seems to shift into a more 90’s influence sound. I instantly loved this song due to the lyrics (no surprise there). This song seems to be about being content with where you are, who you’re with, and what you’re doing even though things may not have gone quite as planned. There’s something carefree yet something very introspective about this track that I just could not get enough of.
I got a very Jeff Rosenstock vibe from “Tired”. There’s something almost singer-songwriter about this track but it’s a full band. I think that just shows the power of the vocals that come from this band but also how together they play as a full group. Just when I was getting used to this almost calming vibe, “I Wanted” kicked things up a little bit and the vocals got a bit more of a punk edge to them that I instantly fell in love with. I wouldn’t call it aggressive in any way but you can feel the passion and conviction behind each word and that’s a truly beautiful thing.
“Curser” brings things back to that singer-songwriter vibe in the perfect way. The tempo slows for this one and it almost feels hollow but, because of that hollowness, you are able to feel the weight of every word in the best way possible. There’s a beauty in this track that I didn’t quite expect from Coupons but that I definitely wanted more of. Thankfully, “Synesthesia” kept that feeling alive with a very atmospheric feeling to it. Think more psychedelic, this track caught me off guard and made me realize that, although I thought I had pegged Coupons and what they are all about, I was never going to be able to put them in one singular box no matter how hard I tried.
The beauty continues to reign supreme as I turned the album over for “Hard Candy” but there’s an almost country twang that comes with this track which, again, caught me completely off guard. I was starting to feel like this album is a bit all over the place but that’s not a complaint at all. Each song brings something new to the table while each element is clearly that of Coupons’.
I was thrown back into a world of 90’s nostalgia with “Ansel” along with a heaviness behind each word. This track is actually quite heartbreaking when you allow yourself to feel it in your bones but the heartbreak is beautiful. I was ready to have something a bit more uplifting but, instead, I got a beautiful piano intro that kicks off “Don’t Let Me”. “Don’t Let Me” maybe another heartbreaking track but it was also a favorite. Sure, maybe that’s because I’m a sucker for the piano that takes the spotlight for this track, or maybe it’s the beautiful way the words are strung together in poetry. Regardless, this one got a handful of listens before I could move on.
“Comatose” kicks things up a little bit and seems to bring a more modern sound to this record which you can hear throughout the entire thing but seems to take a backseat at times to a more nostalgic sound. For some reason, I got completely lost in this song but was shook back to consciousness by “The Beginning” which brings back that almost AJJ type singer-songwriter vibe only with a little bit more production value.
The piano comes back in for “Tongues” so obviously it was another instant favorite of mine. This track almost acts as a throwback to the first track of ‘Up & Up’. It’s more happy-go-lucky with an almost retro sound while being a sound that only Coupons would ever be able to pull off. I loved this track a little too much and must have played it about a dozen times before moving onto the final track, “Cars (Part 2)”. “Cars (Part 2)” caps off this album perfectly. You get to hear the masterful songwriting, the retro sound with a modern twist, the cohesiveness– basically, this ending track showcases all of the amazing aspects that make Coupons such an amazing band.
The liner notes in this album are full of pictures from everything from recording to cats to what just looks like hangouts that we all have with friends. There’s something playful and honest about these pictures. They are candid just like the music that is on the album. What an honest band that deserves all of the attention. Don’t let these guys fall through the cracks!
My Favorite Track(s): “Expectations and Plans”; “Don’t Let Me”; “Tongues”
For Fans Of: 90s Throwbacks; Lyrics; Surprise Piano Parts
Nostalgia-ability: 72 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Both cats hid upstairs because I had the dishwasher going
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 8.7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 8.6 out of 10
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