Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag US - Georgia - Full Moon 34 - 07/28/99

Mendoza Line
I like you when you're not around

Want 16 good reasons to buy this record? Well, just read through the track list. That's it! Then play the record and you'll be caught. Simple as that.

"This was going to be the new wave record, but we got sidetracked after recording (We'll Never Make) The Final Reel, and now it just sounds like everything else...", says The Mendoza Line in the liner notes of I Like You When You're Not Around.True words. And what's even better; this, their third album, sounds like "everything else" that's good, reminding me of lots of bands/artists. Yo La Tengo, Elliott Smith, the Delgados, the Chills, the Pooh Sticks, Popguns, Belle and Sebastian, plus others. The album is a fine journey through a musical world labeled as college rock in the US.

I haven't heard their debut, Poems to a Pawnshop, or their second record Like Someone in Love, but according to a couple of sour-puss sources "... the indie-rock schlock on Poems... could bore hours into a clock." (Spank Magazine), presenting "tepid, lightweight and unconcerned..." (Puncture Magazine) music. However the Athens, GA sextet continue to make a mixture of soft and rough pop-rock, based on guitars, bass, and drums, switching between male/female vox. Song #1, The Big Letdown, appear a bit Walkabout-ish with its twangy guitars. The instrumental In the Evening, At the Bar, With Elmer Bischoff is one of the most comfortable bar visits I've heard for a while. Like the perfect theme for an unmade movie. The piano escorted Social Thursday is gorgeous, and close to Elliott Smith's finest moments. There's a line of catchy, danceable, more up-beat songs, like the Chillsy Compulsively Yours, Pushing Buttons, (We'll Never Make) The Final Reel (reminding me of NJ band Spent, who produced a brilliant debut album - Songs of Drinking and Rebellion - a few years back), the British sounding (jangly, late 80s) You Twitch When You Dream, and If I Am Not What You Are Used To.

There are lots of highlights on this album: the poppy indeedy As You Appear, or the primal and Superchunky/Dinosaur Jr-ish An Enterprising Molecule, plus yet another ace instrumental track called Ink Polaroids, and last but not least the whimsy charm of the fragile and humorous That I Can Admire, including the finest out-of-tune piano. The music of I Like You... fills your head with air and steam. Imagine stumbling home early in the morning from a late party, happily intoxicated by a "dash" of alcohol and the sweetest crush ever. Come slide into love! Walk the Mendoza Line.

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