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You Know the Rules (Extended Version)

The Gay

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Album Review

It would be easy to peg the Gay as a (mostly) distaff New Pornographers. The Gay are an indie supergroup of sorts with members who were in bands like Superconductor, Maow, Vancouver Nights, and the Tennessee Twin; they hail from Vancouver and are on Mint Records. Most importantly, they play incredibly dynamic and hooky songs with intelligence and style. So who cares if they are copycats. Their debut record, You Know the Rules, is one indie pop high after another: the sunshine-bright chorus of "Opulent Canine," the powerful vocals on the rocking "Vacation," the lush vocal harmonies and Wanda Jackson name-check on the poignant "Cindy Lou," the cool guitar tones on "Robert Smith," the wheezing accordion on "Fishin' Jim." Every song has a hook that sinks in deep and won't let go. The Gay spread the vocals around among the five members and they harmonize like a family. The writing chores are shared, too, which keeps the record from sounding too samey; there is a nice mix of tempos and styles. Unlike the New Pornographers, they mix a few heartfelt ballads in among the bopping pop tunes. "Fidelity" is a particularly pretty song that has a deeply blue lead vocal and perfect male/female harmonies; "Palace" is even better with a stately tempo and lyrics (and harmonies) that cut very deep. On the back cover of the disc, a sarcastic ode to Vancouver calls it "the Crown City of What's Happening," but to an outsider it seems like Vancouver is capable of turning out one incredible indie pop band after another. The Gay's debut record is an essential for lovers of the New Pornographers and Vancouver pop. The group is right up there with Papas Fritas and Saturday Looks Good to Me, bands whose members believe in pop music and love, and have the magic power to make the listener believe in them too.

You Know the Rules (Extended Version), The Gay
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