The Main Thing is the wrong album to be unleashing on a world in the grip of a pandemic panic. Its breezy air suggests chilled-out backyard barbecues and long snoozes in the sun, not precautionary face masks and apocalyptic dread. The New Jersey band have yet again rustled up another helping of easy-on-the-ear indie pop, on this, their fifth long-player.
Lead-off single, Paper Cup, featuring Sylvan Esso, is particularly perky, its jauntiness making it an outlier on an album which is mellow even by their standards. Most of the album rolls gently on by, fluttering past your consciousness and barely leaving a trace. Tracks like You and November are impeccably sweet and tuneful, like Teenage Fanclub taking a transatlantic jaunt, while Falling Down could be Fleet Foxes tackling an Automatic For The People out-take. The title track too is a simple pleasure reaching levels of poppy cheerfulness Ian Broudie would’ve been proud of back in his Lightning Seeds heyday.
It takes a slight change of tone to grab the attention. Also A But has a touch of Beach Boys melancholy to it and a lightly jazzy tempo changing outro that calls to mind the aforementioned Fleet Foxes. It’s as yin as it gets to the yang of Paper Cup, with everything else hovering in the happy medium between.
Sting is only a short instrumental but its moodiness might have come to something worked up into a full track. Likewise Brother lulls the album to its conclusion in a manner that’s part Albatross, part Star Me Kitten, but it could use lyrics like the latter and some of the sultriness of either.
It’s hard to knock an album whose defining characteristic is its pleasantness though, even if it wants a little for passion and excitement. An album you could take home to meet your parents.