Don’t you just love that time of year when you know summer’s around the corner, it’s started to get warm enough that you don’t need to swaddle yourself in 16 layers of fleece and you’re so grateful that it’s not dark when you leave work that you’re momentarily happy to listen to any old rubbish that vaguely reminds you of Californian beaches full of perfectly tanned Americans with good teeth and well-behaved children?
No? You’d rather wait for the bus in the drizzle with The Smiths on your iPod? Well, if that’s the case, The Tyde probably aren’t the band for you, because Three’s Company, the third album from (apparently too) happily married Los Angeles couple Darren and Ann Do Rademaker probably isn’t going to be your cup of iced tea.
Three’s Company starts off inoffensively enough, with jangly guitars and breezy summer lyrics on the Jack Johnson-meets-the-Beach Boys West Coast cheeriness of Do It Again Again, on which Rademaker sings a little out of breath and cleverly references this in the lyrics.
More happy surf pop is doled out on second track Brock Landers, with its bouncy, cheerleader-morality hook of “Jealousy will get you nowhere” (helped along by special guest Conor Deasy of the Thrills) and it doesn’t really let up on the smiley, happy, Californeeea cheeriness after that. For the entire album.
Separate Cars is a bit slower – a bit more Americana with its five plus minutes of interesting ’60s synth swirls (Rhodes, Hammond, Mellotron and Wurltizer, claim the sleeve notes), and Too Many Kims is a bit faster, a bit fuzzier – but all in the way that Tesco is a bit different from Sainsburys. By the fifth track Glassbottom Lights, it’s all getting a bit samey, a bit too safe and the second half of the album pretty much repeats the formula.
There are slightly slower tracks – The Lamest Shows – faster ones – Ltd Appeal, The Pilot – and now and again, one of them almost throws up something to comment on, such as the California Dreaminess of County Line, with its harmonised backing vocals, or the smoothly Lennonesque piano of Don’t Need a Leash. Just when you’ve written it off as too sedate, along comes the darker Aloha Breeze, all mournful Country and Western gingham sadness, to claim the title of Best Song on the Album, but at the end of it all, you realise there’s really nothing here.
Even the names give it away: Darren and Ann – nice couple next door in white picket fence American suburbia maybe, but don’t we only want them making rock’n’roll if they’re secretly murdering the neighbours or inviting the local preacherman round for debauched sexual games? If their lives really are as relentlessly smiley as this record suggests then good luck to them, but I can’t help wishing that there was some indication that this was all a post-ironic joke. Like the fact that the album was mixed at Bright Street Studios, as if even their locations have a fixed grin and an endorsement from a toothpaste multinational. Sadly, I think that would be too much to ask. Nice enough though, if you like that sort of thing.