The Shermans – Casual

The Shermans

Riding 34 miles-per-hour in a 35 miles-per-hour lane with window cracked and autumn leaves lining the street curbs, and the Shermans’ Casual playing on my car stereo, I cannot help but show hints of a smile. The Shermans (made of members of the like-minded Red Sleeping Beauty and Aerospace) are all about carefree, happy pop. As long as the listener is not cynical with a generally negative outlook on life, the Shermans are bound to put the listener into a sunny mood.
Borrowing from the Motown pop of the 1950s and ’60s, Casual consists of indie-pop guitar work and “shoo-bee-doo-bee-doo-ba-bas” along with synthesizers and jazzy bass. Gathering from various singles recorded in Stockholm and released only in Japan and then the Philippines, the album has a total of 18 tracks, three of which are bonus tracks for the US release only. And, surprisingly enough, it challenges me to pick a standout track, as each is as melodic as the last. Casual cannot help but remind me of Wolfie’s Awful Mess Mystery, not so much because of the actual music, but because of the general feel of each album. Both albums have 15 tracks, an average song length of two minutes, are overtly happy, contain many a “ba-ba-da / na-na-na,” and both garnered more press in Japan. Both also do not seem to grow tiresome, as they make the listener want to continually move limbs from the booty down.
Okay, now that I have listened to Casual for the ump-teenth time, “Fling” sticks out with its up-tempo guitar work and a melody similar to an Apples in Stereo tune. Ex-bandmate Torbjorn Thorsen provides vocals on this song and a minority of the other 18 tracks. But it is Ingela Matsson who sings on most songs, in her cutesy, entrancing voice. I cannot choose a favorite between the two vocalists. Both project their voice in a similar fashion. The only difference, really, is the sex of the vocalist, a minor detail in the context of this particular situation. “Loud and Laughing” also makes a name for itself with its funk bass and equally funk synth, even bringing to mind the likes of Stereolab.
“I don’t mind spending hours of my precious time waiting for you / to call me on the phone / oh I’ll be there for you and I / I don’t care if my life takes me nowhere / as long as you are right by my side / the sun will always shine.” The lyrical content follows in this vein throughout the album. Although it is harmless, I am sure that is what the Shermans were aiming for.
It is unfortunate that Japan sees the release of so many superb albums that the US misses. The Polysics are a perfect example of a crazy, almost headache-inducing band from Tokyo that almost never saw the light of day in the United States. The Shermans are another example of a strong band that is finally releasing albums available to America without having to pay that extra cost for an import. Just make sure you do not listen to Casual if you are the frustrated type, for it is bound to cause you to throw the CD out the car window. But if you have the least bit of heart in you, Casual will make you all warm and fuzzy inside.