Everyone needs a little sunshine in their life.
Chris Jones 2008
In between the vague promises of the Los Angeles power pop quintet's first EP, Sing Songs, and this, their first album proper, the world has not been kind to The Little Ones. Dropped by Astralwerks, their album ready to roll, it's a wonder they sound so happy. But maybe this is why we should treasure them. The Little Ones don't want to reinvent the wheel or give us a new way of looking at things. In their own words the band realised that, ''There were no new tales to tell and they felt stuck right where they started...The Little Ones quickly realized that their only weapon against reality was their imagination.''
In this they can resemble our own XTC: putting their faith in major chords and mild psychedelic flourishes like the Mellotron pop of the opening title track, backed by relentlessly cheery chorus whoops. Their sunshine-infused, optimism-fuelled material is made more poignant by this defiant refusal to be disheartened by a world so jaded. Every cut apparently only made it to tape if it made the band want to dance. Everybody's Up To Something might possibly be the closest to a day at the seaside in aural form you'll ever hear. By the end you can almost taste the ice cream sweetness of it all.
At times the mandate to be jolly can seem a tad desperate: a bit like being hit over the head with a bouncy castle. But then something like Boracy's cheeky steel drums, or the floating feedback-drenched intro to Farm Song will snap you back into a focus with a sigh and a grin. It's on this latter paean to fecundity that you can glimpse a more poetic, introspective side to the band's work that provides a relief from all the smiley positivity of it all.
Weirdly for a band who come from the land of perma-tans and Beach Boy harmonies, Morning Tide often sounds more European than American, not unlike the harmony-drenched irony of gallic bands like Phoenix or Tahiti 80; especially in the androgynous lilt of Edward Nolan Reyes' vocals on Gregory's Chant. Hopefully their own feelgood philosophy lacks too much irony, and they'll fight on to give us more. Everyone needs a little sunshine in their life.