by John M. Borack
Pop fans have been eagerly anticipating The Red Button's sophomore release, As Far As Yesterday Goes, and the new 12-track disc definitely does not disappoint - it's another immediately engaging aural bouquet that melds the sweet sounds of the '60s and '70s with classic production values.
The Red Button is the handiwork of Seth Swirsky (who has released a couple of wonderful soft-pop solo albums) and Mike Ruekberg (formerly of '90s popsters Rex Daisy), and both of 'em have a keen sense of how to write and sing short and sweet popsongs that leave an indelible stamp upon the brain. The overall effect is less overtly early Beatlesque than the RB's 2007 debut, although there are still strong echoes of the Fabs on some tracks: the marvelous "I Can't Forget" sounds like it could have leapt straight off of A Hard Day's Night, while the harmonica-driven "Caught in the Middle" is an insanely catchy John Lennon-circa-1963 cop. Speaking of Lennon, "Girl, Don't" is another amazing approximation of his beat music-era sound, with impassioned vocals and guitars that ring, ring, ring.
Other touchstones here include The Zombies (on the slightly moody "As Far As Yesterday Goes"), solo George Harrison (check the slide guitar bits on "Easier") and even some of Paul McCartney's more fanciful Wings-era material (the airy, reggae-lite bounce of "You Do Something to Me" recalls early '70s Macca). The sonic palette expands even further with the nearly-funky "Sandreen," the Elvis Costello-ish vocal stylings of "She Grows Where She's Planted" and a number of lovely soft pop numbers that don't sound dissimilar to Swirsky's solo material. Ruekberg's sympathetic, uncluttered production suits the songs perfectly and the arrangements are often stunning (see the pretty "On a Summer Day" and the disc-closing piano/guitar confessional "Running Away").
In short, As Far As Yesterday Goes is a near-perfect record, and the sound of pop music growing up without growing old. Don't miss it.