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  Oohs and Aahs  
  Say Hi  
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As you may have gathered, here at EvilSponge HQ, we're particularly fond of Seattle band Say Hi. Luckily for us, Say Hi's alter-ego, singer-songwriter Eric Elbogen, tends to be rather prolific, releasing about one album a year. More importantly, the rapidity of his releases have done little to diminish the quality of Say Hi's records. In fact, I'd have come right out and say that I think this 2009 Barsuk release, entitled Oohs & Aahs is more immediately grabbing and listenable than 2008's The Wishes and The Glitch.

Still, if you've heard Say Hi before, listening to Oohs &Aahs won't offer anything too unexpected. Filled with Indie pop hooks and clever songwriting, the music manages to match up and integrate the claustrophobic, introspective echoes of The Wishes and The Glitch with the more expansive, pop-oriented tunes of Impeccable Blahs. Throughout the record, Elbogen's voice remains an evocative presence that is backed with Say Hi's trademark of syncopated rhythms and gently catchy melodies.

Oohs & Aahs begins with Elouise, a slower paced tune which combines lower-pitched, effects-laden guitar work with a foreboding piano riff. Taken together with Elbogen's vocal narrative, this song feels rather dark and moody, despite the high harmony which lifts the gloominess a bit. However, Say Hi picks up the speed and brings back the bouncy pop feel with Hallie And Henry, a happy sounding little track that evokes the synth-pop glory of earlier Say Hi tunes like Let's Talk About Spacechips or Angels and Darlas. This is the type of song that just induces the listener to tap their feet and dance, and is one of the recordings on the album that immediately grabs you.

After the slightly odd and vaguely jittery Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh, Say Hi slows things back down with November Was White, December Was Grey. This tune harkens back to the moodiness of Northwestern Girls, which was probably the best song back on The Wishes and The Glitch. The keyboards and guitars don't exactly mimic each other, but rather play alternating, complimentary melodies against minimalistic, tom-heavy drums. Furthermore, the repeated chorus of "I'll feel better when the winter's gone" pretty much echoes my own feelings, which perhaps explains the immediate connection I felt with the lyrics.

At that point, you then get Dramatic Irony, another faster-paced tune, which features a nicely tinkly keyboard interlude that chimes over the low guitars. This is followed by Maurine, where Elbogen's gently elegiac narrative is highlighted by the restrained instrumentation which highlights the lyrical narrative. Of course, no Say Hi record would be complete without handclaps, which show up at the beginning of the next song, One, Two…One, which keeps the synth-pop energy of some of the earlier tracks on the record, but dials down the jitteriness just a bit.

After the slow, short, keyboard heavy lament of Audrey, Oohs & Aahs heads towards its conclusion with the one-two punch of The Stars Just Blink for Us and Sallie's Heart is Stone. The Stars Just Blink for Us features a rhythmic tap beat that wouldn't be out of place on a Tilly & the Wall song over which Elbogen positively croons backed by a organ-like keyboard riff. In contrast, Sallie's Heart is Stone reverts back to the slower pace of Elouise, with its vocal-heavy production and spacey but still catchy melody. It's not the most uplifting of endings, but it is effective, especially as the instruments grow louder and the speed gradually increases through to the final end.

As I mentioned at the beginning, if you're familiar with Say Hi's output, you'll pretty much know what to expect from Oohs & Aahs. Yet, I have to confess that I think this album is more immediately resonant than previous efforts. It's like Elbogen took the inward focus of his last album and added enough musical touches and effects to make it more expansive. And with that in mind, I hope that the focus shown on Oohs & Aahs combined with a major- indie release will bring more attention to this almost criminally under-rated band.

Related Links:

Label Website:
Say Hi Website:
Say Hi on MySpace:
Also on EvilSponge:
     Concert: Sat.24.Mar.07
     Concert: Sat.28.Oct.07
     Album: The Wishes and the Glitch
     Concert: Fri.07.Mar.08
     Concert: Wed.8.Oct.08


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