Let it Rest, the third release from Sorry About Dresden and their second release on Omaha’s Saddle Creek, combines the regional indie sound of Chapel Hill, NC, the band’s current home base, with a groove-happy classic-rock sensibility. Influenced by Superchunk, Elvis Costello and other like-minded mid-tempo pop artists, Let it Rest is the archetypal indie record for the 2000s, not because it’s a prototype for others to follow, but because its sound is so similar to its predecessors.
Ten years ago, had someone handed me Let It Rest,I probably would have listened to it twice a day, and it would have been one of those records that was always near and dear to my indie heart. Sure, it sounds an awful lot like pretty much every Superchunk record, but so what? The fact is you can throw this record on and for 40 minutes you can tap your foot, nod your head and totally enjoy yourself.
“Beds and Lawns,” “The Approaching Dawn,” “Going for the Gold,” and “Candid Camera” are so college-radio friendly it hurts. Killer hooks, great riffs and decent lyrics will all send any die-hard indie fan reaching for the repeat button on the remote. Other tracks, like “Frozen in Mid-Gesture,” and “Relax, It’s Tuesday,” find lead singer Matt Oberst (yes, Conor’s brother) reaching for a more soulful content. On “Relax” he muses: “Its not really givin’ in, you were never gonna winyou want some adoration, we’ll doesn’t everyoneyou don’t deserve anymore than you earn” The remainder of the tracks all have solid foundations and serve to reinforce the steady tempo of the record.
But as I approach the end of my third decade on the Big Blue Dot, I find my qualifications for “goodness” in a record evolving. While my patience for records I thought were brilliant dwindles and the search for true quality expands, it is in this divide that new records like Let It Rest get left behind. I already own dozens of copies of this record, none of which were authored by Sorry About Dresden, and while at the time they were great and continue to be great now, those records were about the time in which they were contemporary and their relevant memories.
The question becomes, then, much as with any critical assessment, on what level do we review this record? If we are talkin’ about Let It Rest cracking a list of top five records, hell, even the Hubbell isn’t gonna pick this one out of the night sky. But if we are talking about some 19-year-old kid buying it after he saw them play with The Ones and Zeros then, yeah, its more than decent. This is not to demean the foot tapping 19-year-old. On the contrary, as I scribe this review my foot moves feverishly, and I’m considering recanting every negative word I’ve just written. But once some upperclassman has that same 19-year-old listen to the records that clearly influenced this one, he’ll move on and begin to understand my conundrum. Until then he is content in his innocence. And frankly, at this moment, I envy him.