Saloon - (This is) What We Call Progress

(This is) What We Call Progress

British five-piece Saloon craft beautifully articulated pop music that is both seductive and spacey. In fact, (This is) What We Call Progress has everything to do about duality- -- blending bright, shimmering melodies with rainy-day melancholy. Jangly guitars meander through somber strings and quirky analog electronica, creating a sublimely brittle balance between straightforward songwriting and celestial funk. Amanda Gomez’s sweetly hushed vocals float delicately above the instrumentation, held together only by the strand of each breath. The album’s opener, "Plastic Surgery," pulses with signals transmitted from a distant satellite before surging to life, embracing a cyclical, forward-moving rhythm. Haunting violas descend and wash the moog drones in lofty starlight. And then, without warning, track two downshifts into murkier waters. On "Bicycle Thieves," Gomez sings, "These are splinters of half-formed thoughts, these are splinters of battles fought." Pouting horns and feathery percussion create feelings of empathy, unraveling much like a Wes Anderson movie, wet mascara and all. "Girls Are the New Boys" takes a stellar stab at pastel-colored pop, shamelessly opening the floodgates towards the end for an anthemic jam session. Throughout much of the ten-song record, the listener is navigated only by the faint glimmer of vocals. It is this ethereal and subdued quality of sound that leaves the listener with a burning desire to find closure. Like a novel that is only partially understood, one can’t help but search for a cue that will make sense of it all, hidden somewhere among the sighs of dialogue.