Classic soul has had quite a comeback these past few years. With Jamie Lidell, Amy Winehouse, and Sharon Jones leading the pack, it seems the public can’t get enough of modern music paying homage to soda-shop jukebox tunes. And now White, Blue, Yellow & Clouds, from the industrial landscapes of Brooklyn, has emerged as a forerunner of neo-doo wop, equipped with enough euphonious harmonies and cotton-candy reverb to keep you shaking your tail-feathers at the hop until — well, you get where I’m going.
Conceived in a daydream back in 2001, White, Blue, Yellow & Clouds is led by vocalist, guitarist, and tenor-saxophonist Matt Bauder, with a host of musicians providing any of the many intricate layers that comprise each song. The album opens with “Moonlight”; reminiscent of the Del-Vikings, we find the band members claiming their sound and era straight away with the opening harmonies. But the album doesn’t truly begin until the second track, “Seeing Stars,” where sumptuous horns and cuffed guitar licks back Bauder’s quivering voice. Never fully in tune, Bauder’s vocals tenderly wrap around each song and provide the heart of the album. And where they lack in muscle, they make up for in conviction. One listen to “Goodbye” and you’ll know what I mean.
What keeps Introducing from being just another doo-wop record out of its time is the dreamy, Lynchian undertones carefully woven throughout. “In My Dreams” could just as easily have been played in place of Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, and the discordant horn sustain after “Seeing Stars” suggests something far different from the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed nature of its lyrics.
A grating, nearly five-minute take on Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows” meanders far too long, and instrumental “Dotted Lines” fails to go anywhere interesting enough to warrant its slot on the record. Elsewhere there is the occasional filler to be found, but it’s innocuous enough so as not to compromise the album as a whole. The good heavily outweighs the bad, and the album finishes in a haze of yesteryear affections with “After a Year,” reminding us what a startling debut Introducing really is.