Laura Stevenson and the Cans’ “Sit Resist” does that, too, but on steroids. Genres that are beautifully integrated here include (but are not limited to) folk, pop, rock, indie rock, indie pop, ’50s girl pop, Motown, gospel and waltz. And somehow, she ties it all together into an incredibly coherent album. Wow.
The unifying thread here is Stevenson’s passionate voice and the sustained mood. There’s an overarching feel of pleasant nostalgia here, whether created by invoking familiar genres that have faded in the public ear (the Motown of “Barnacles,” the Phil Spector girl-pop of “Master of Art,” the static-laden gospel of “Red Clay Roots”) or sounding wistful (“The Wait,” “The Weight” — yes, different tunes). What’s genius about the tactic is that it leaves pretty much every sound and tempo open to her, whether the elegant pace of “Finish Piece” or hand-clap/foot-stomp barnstormer that is “Montauk Monster.”
“Master of Art,” “The Healthy One” and “Halloween Pts 1&2” are all standout tracks for completely different reasons. The first shows off her impressive pipes. The second unveils lyrical depth and pop sensibility, while the final is an emotive indie-rock tune enviable by any chanteuse working today. That she can pull off so many things with excellence is just making me jealous.
Stevenson has freed herself from the constraints of genre, but still organized her thoughts into a cohesive unit. The disc never stops moving, and that’s a boon for the listener (“Sit Resist,” indeed). She has unleashed some of my favorite songs of the year, and definitely my favorite pop album of the year thus far. Download it here for free for a limited time. —Stephen Carradini