Absolute Punk: Afternoons “Say Yes” Album Review (8/10)

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When done well, synth-laden indie-pop can be magnetic, transformative and utterly indelible. Case in point, Say Yes, the latest release from Afternoons. The LA-based six piece comprised of former members of venerable LA indie darlings Irving have crafted an album that is equal parts psych-pop, dream-pop and everything in between. Written over a period of seven years, Say Yes is anchored by verbose, nearly poetic lyrics and coliseum-sized choruses, Say Yes is chock full of giant anthems. The sextet employs a dual frontman approach with both Brian Canning and Steven Scott sharing vocal duties. Both Scott and Canning employ hazy, drug-induced vocals and their contributions take a backseat to the sonic landscapes, prose-like verses and some of the best choruses of the year.

The album opens with “Graffiti Artist,” a plaintive and honest heart-on-sleeve confessional that is no-holds-barred honesty and wholly charismatic. If “Graffiti Artist” does not hook you then Afternoons might not be the band for you. If you’re willing to give the album a bit more time, you will be ultimately rewarded. Title track “Say Yes” is a defiant anthem with a massive hook and an absolute must-download. In an era when far too many title tracks leave a lot to be desired, “Say Yes” charms in every sense of the word. The power of Say Yes is that it deftly balances titanic choruses with clever wordplay and nowhere is that more apparent than on the cheeky “Saturday Morning.” Music is at best when it reflects the mood of its songwriters and “Saturday Morning” is that song. Revisiting the zest of “Say Yes” the sextet pushes forward on “Bored Teenagers,” a giant singalong that lingers long after the final second. Not content to simmer down just yet, Afternoons leap from the speakers yet again with “Gloria,” a multi-layered composition that teems with summer heat and unravels a narrative that is as compelling as any other on the album. The first act of Say Yes concludes with “Love is a Western Word,” a sun-kissed, guitar-driven nod to the Beach Boys that features a triumphant chorus, a lilting trumpet intro and machinated strings.

The second half of Say Yes opens with the brooding and moody “Oh Heather,” a barren, piano-driven tour-de-force that begins placidly and gradually rises to a stirring conclusion. Not interested in slowing the momentum, Say Yes never sits still. Rhythmic, slow-moving and buttressed by gentle guitars, “Perfect Wilderness” is a must-listen on an album that has an ample amount of winning moments. One of those winning omens is the bouncy jaunt “Said I Might” and the breezy “Intervention.” Of the two, “Intervention” is the stronger as it segues from a lazy Sunday song to a powder keg of emotion. That well of emotion is revisited in the epic closer “We’re Just Below the Sun,” a song that combines every element of the previous ten songs and packs into one final farewell punch. That the song delivers only furthers the discussion of why Say Yes is such a magnificent album.

From start to finish, Say Yes is a triumph. Brimming with top-tier lyrics, restrained vocals and giant choruses, there’s no doubt, Say Yes was worth the wait.

-Gregory Robson (Absolute Punk)

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