The last time anyone made '60s pop revivalism this sumptuous was in the '90s. And with the '90s slowly becoming the new '80s, these indie-pop sophisticates may find themselves on the leading edge. Based in Miami and represented by Orlando's Foundation Management, the Postmarks are defined by dulcet chamber drifts and the stylish remove of chanteuse Tim Yehezkely's voice.
This sophomore LP is a playful take on the concept album: all covers, all but the last song with a number in the title, arranged in ordinal progression. Such urbane concepts live and die by degree of taste, but their selection of source material flaunts a keen palate.
The collection represents wider stylistic expression for the Postmarks. Fairly rocking by their standards is the remake of Ride's 'OX4,â?� which casts a broad, gorgeous sky of guitars reminiscent of Darklands. They magnificently push the nostalgic teen sentimentality of the Ramones' '7-11â?� to the logical extreme of Phil Spector's symphonic girl-group splendor. The Byrds' 'Eight Miles Highâ?� is turned into a sweeping spaghetti-Western score, the Ventures' 'Slaughter on Tenth Avenueâ?� into an echoing Del Shannon-esque instrumental and Blondie's '11:59â?� into brisk pop evocative of prime Saint Etienne.
Sadly, there are a few underdeveloped tracks that result in mere pastels of some great songs (David Bowie's 'Five Years,â?� the Cure's 'Six Different Waysâ?� and the Jesus and Mary Chain's 'Nine Million Rainy Daysâ?�). But most are interesting, well-executed transformations.
By-the-Numbers boasts the Postmarks' most thoughtful, cinematic arrangements yet. Instead of relying solely on cool detachment, the album charms with a sense of whimsy. Most important, their stiffness is gradually melting away.