Photo of

Pop Incarnate

... it's what life feels like when you're lost out here ... (Debauchery Records)


By Kevin Gibson

Label mates with the Merediths (see cover story), IamIs epitomizes everything that is right with pop music. This album is honest, full, beautiful and real, unlike the "pop" we hear on commercial radio. ("Pop" in the case of IamIs actually represents a definition of the word which places emphasis on melody, hooks and accessibility rather than commercial popularity.)

Louisville-born IamIs comprises Jason Cox, Shawna Dellecave and Jon Williams and the trio has produced a dreamy, delicious album that would make Belle & Sebastian quite envious. One can also hear moments of other modern influences, such as the Flaming Lips and (to a lesser extent) Teenage Fanclub, but the obvious references here would go to the Beatles and other mid-1960s psych-pop groups.

These are songs of regret and longing that, in another form, might not be so endearing (as in, if Britney Spears were singing them). But little touches make the whole thing go, such as the recording of the country-fied "The Anatomy of a Rainy Day," which is made special by the faux vinyl LP crackle carefully laid over it. And the overall construction of the album gives one the feeling that this is a work that is being presented in ever-progressing movements, as opposed to this simply being a collection of songs placed onto one CD.

For instance, many of the tracks are cross-faded, so songs blend into one another like clouds. And the rudimentary drum sounds give way to intricate horn arrangements, curious percussion selections and other well-placed oddities that make the whole thing greater than the sum of its parts. Not to mention that songs like "Paper Planes" and "Sunny Days" will stick in your head for days and days. And, hell, there's a bonus live (acoustic in-studio) disc that sheds a folky light on the band that only adds depth and perspective to the studio recordings.

All in all, this is the kind of album, much like the Merediths' new disc A Lost Universe, that give me hope for the future of pop - and, for that matter, music in general.

The rest of the story is it