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Chicago’s Livingroom released their debut album, Don’t Shoot the Messenger!, this year, and it plays like exactly the breath of fresh air the music world needs at this moment. In a time where everything is either depressingly morbid or vacuously ignorant, Livingroom, with their C86 indie attitude and R.E.M. sensibility, finds the perfect middle ground between the two extremes. The album was written during the COVID pandemic, and although many of the songs deal with heavy subject matter, there is a joyous explosion of life during every moment as the band explores everything from jangle pop to jazz.
The standout track here is the ridiculously catchy “Keeping Time,” a slice of indie pop perfection that skirts the edges of twee and the Beatlesque in the best way. The bossa nova-fueled, jazz-tinged “Mickey the Daydreamer” continues the pace of infectious melodicism, and this burst of witty pop culminates with the beautiful “Easy” which, at only a minute forty, demands repeated listens. From here on, the band focuses more on mid-tempo numbers and ballads. Therefore, the album slows down a little in its second half, like the vast majority of records out there, but overall Don’t Shoot the Messenger!, represents a triumphant victory over one of the darker periods in recent history that nevertheless acknowledges the weight of reality.
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