Buttertones // Buttertones
Recommended Track: Reminiscing
Ok, let’s tackle the elephant in the room. “Buttertones” is a horrible band name. Sorry, but it just is. It’s objectively bad. So bad that I find myself literally saying: “I can’t believe it’s not Buttertones.” I can’t believe this is not a Ska-Reggae fusion band that specializes in jingles for margarine commercials.
But that’s okay.
Really it is.
Because if you’re the type of person that judges a band solely on their name then you don’t deserve to listen to nor will you even “get” Buttertones. Half the fun of listening to this album was bein’ like: “Okay, soooo…I guess I’m about to sit down and actually listen to a fucking band called ‘Buttertones.’ Because I guess music is about adventure?” The other half is realizing that this band comes off as more nuanced and varied than the beer-swilling, party-skating pursuers of the “fuck it” aesthetic.
At first listen, laymen will draw parallels between Richard Araiza’s voice and Paul Banks’ (Inter-fucking-pol) but his delivery is infinitely less vapid. I hear a hint of Stephin Merritt but spacier, younger and therefore unsullied by the travails of age. Even if the lyrics sometimes drift into banal cheesiness, the suave delivery makes every heart-felt statement seem casually mysterious, imbuing it with that Californian midnight magic. There’s an invigorating quality to his croon and when it’s juxtaposed with those very simple touches of pop and allowed to roam free in the echo chamber of indie, the music can be downright cathartic and warm, while at the same time coming off like a 30 year-old blonde mod woman in a black dress: Imperceptively cool from a distance.
It’s not all icy indie-pop precision either. There are those personal tiny touches of rawness that endear me to this album. The sound of the bass kick squeaking in “Nu Suave” with that riff that blat-blat-blats into your ear while the snare rolls on and the singer laments, “All fucking night.” The bongos and reckless tropical swing of “Orpheus Under the Influence” where the bass slides like M. Bison and the vocals aim for heights of operatic drama. The ghostly “Reminiscing”: a perfect example of the band’s character, which turns the act of nostalgia into something oddly and impossibly empowering. The clapping and wondering surfer riffage of closer “Kaleidopope.” The sum of all these speak to a very unapologetic belief in their style and the bravery to not only see it all the way through but also not insult you with a 17-song example of that style. They keep shit nice and tidy at 8 tracks.
And that’s the kicker with Buttertones. While some bands try to burn your taste buds with fire and sizzle or confuse the palette with a overly-complicated melody of genres, Buttertones chills on the upper layer and simply melts. This is the kind of band that will certainly get even better with time. I can’t wait until their sound ages like a fine cheese and crusts over an oven-baked risotto.
Fuck, I’m hungry.