Marshmallow Coast‘s 2000 offering Coasting is one of my favourite albums: quirky and cool neopsych with a lot of acoustic guitar and off-key singing. 2002′s Ride The Lightning also has some great songs (listen to “Classifieds”!), but their 2003 production Antistar is boring if not downright bad. It was thus with some misgivings that I put on 2006′s Say It In Slang. Dear Reader, I usually hate albums the first time I listen to them. But let me tell you that, to my surprise and delight, I found Say It In Slang as good as Coasting if not better. It’s a beautiful piece of cool jazzy guitar pop.
Guitarist and singer Andy Gonzales is no longer the band’s sole musical motor. In fact, the latest album isn’t credited to Marshmallow Coast, but to “M Coast”. While Gonzales’s masterful guitar playing and charmingly nerdy vocals are still much in evidence, he now shares the album space with two other lead singers: keyboardist Emily Growden’s effortlessly smooth soprano and veteran bass player Derek Almstead’s tenor on the druggier songs. Furthermore, Sara Kirkpatrick’s fine flute-playing is heard on most of the tunes.
It’s a slick and suave record, calmly up-beat, unaggressive yet intricate enough that it never crosses the line into muzak territory. Listen to Almstead’s bass — it’s high in the mix as it deserves to be. The band classifies their music as “tropical / psychedelic / J[apan]-pop”, but the most important influence I can identify is Steely Dan. If you’re into them, and if you like the Essex Green and Maggi, Pierce & E.J., then get this album ASAP. Floridans are in luck: the M Coast is touring the Sunshine State in early June.