|Album Rating: A|
The band's first album, Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex?, was a joyous romp laced with clean guitar noodlings and reverb drenched atmosphere, and while it had a completely fresh sound, it lost momentum by the end. On You're Always On My Mind, the group is much more focused. They had a specific idea of what album they wanted to make before they made it, and this not only makes for a better album, but allows the band to define themselves.
The album opens with simple a capella vocals over finger snapping, before jolting quickly into gear, when the guitars take over the intro's vocal line. The mood is set just as easily as vocalist/guitarist Pete Weiland sings "late at night / you and I / never work out quite right." It's a perfect album for nighttime listening; one that's aching with nostalgic looks back at summers passed. From the first 10 seconds of "Snack Attack," the pace is never broken, and no songs sound out of place or too fast/slow. It's a moderate burn through hooks about slumber parties, night swimming, and even pizza, all which bring back adolescent memories from any listener. But where the album hits the hardest is on "Back To School." The simple line "where did the summer go?" backed with the poignant guitar lines, will bring you right back into the late days of August, where everyone dreaded the end of summer vacation. "Back To School" also shows personal emotion, where Pete laments doing things the way he did and wishing he could do them differently. It's utterly relatable, yet subtle.
AGBOL fall into a certain category of music that is undefinable. They boarder the line between indie and pop-rock, never letting themselves fall into a stereotyped genre. They've seemed to learn the ropes from their mentors, Motion City Soundtrack, who put out a 7 inch featuring two earlier versions of two tracks from this album, last summer. MCS frontman Justin Pierre also lends his vocals on "Pet Mouse," a track that has vastly improved over its earlier inclusion on their 7 inch. It's a fun, catchy song that encapsulates the entire album under three minutes, with guitar lines that will dig and bury themselves in your head for days to come.
While You're Always On My Mind is a perfect summer album, it will carry A Great Big Pile of Leaves into seasons to come. But make sure to enjoy it now while the mood and weather are just right.
1. Snack Attack
2. Flying Fish
3. Pet Mouse
4. Slumber Party
5. Back To School
8. Fun in the Sun
9. Locus of Control