I still wonder why The 88 hasn’t been signed by a major record label until now. It’s a great indie rock band, it has toured endlessly and has grown a big fan base on the Internet.
Finally, with an awesome album on Island records, The 88 might be the next big thing in rock music.
“Not Only…But Also,” is the first album The 88 released under a major record label. It’s actually the third album for this three-member Los Angeles band, but they’re still very popular in the indie rock scene. And at least their major record label debut wasn’t delayed until their fourth or fifth album, like Death Cab for Cutie and The Decemberists.
It’s a great debut. In fact, “Not Only…But Also” has the best music the band has ever released. True, it still sounds somewhat generic for a pop rock band, but the band is getting better at distinguishing themselves from other indie bands, such as OK Go.
The 88 sounds like a cool cross between the quirky vocals of Elvis Costello with the pop rock sound of OK Go. But whereas OK Go relied on goofy dances to earn their street cred, The 88 earned it through crossing its sound with the awesome surf rock sound of The Thrills.
Awesome songs such as “Coming Home” mix snazzy swing drums with the intoxicating rock guitars of Elvis Costello. True, Keith Slettedahl won’t win any awards with the simple lyric, “Won’t you be good to yourself/Don’t you feel like coming home/It’ll be good/It’ll be like coming home.” However, no one can resist the sunny keyboards of Adam Merrin and the lovely guitars of Slettedahl.
Although this album isn’t too much different from their previous albums, The 88 sound much more like a punk band in this one. Slettedahl’s guitars are now outfitted with fancy wah-wah sounds, and Anthony Zimmitti’s drums are much faster than in the previous album, “Over and Over.”
Also, they’ve added in some great mixing effects on their instruments. Songs such as “I’m Nothing” features awesome reverse cymbal clanging effects and echoing piano sounds. Although sometimes it sounds more like the band Doves, The 88 thankfully don’t obsess too much with electronics.
In fact, this entire album features some of the most killer drum lines by Zimmitti. He doesn’t just play upbeat disco drums — he also adds blazing fast drum rolls and clashing cymbals everywhere. His best drumming comes in the disco rock power ballad, “Sons & Daughters.” He literally plays his heart out. Even in some slightly awkward funk rock songs, his drumming is always top-notch.
I’ve gotten tired of some power pop rock bands, such as The New Pornographers. However, The 88 somehow manage to play lovely, sunny rock without sounding too cheesy. Let’s hope they keep their efforts up for the next album.