The Babies - Our House On The Hill

So far, so Brooklyn slacker-pop.

Label: Woodsist

Rating: 7

The humble side-project is surely the purest of all. Free from the constraints and expectations of ‘main’ bands, it exists unencumbered by outside pressures, solely because playing – and releasing – music is, after all, fun. That’s why The Babies’ second long-player, ‘Our House on the Hill’ shines - a fun little record, resplendent in its throwaway charm.

It is, of course, also the sum of its parts; The Babies’ main protagonists are Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls and Woods’ bassist Kevin Morby. So far, so Brooklyn slacker-pop. There’s the requisite mixture of mid-paced guitar strumming, boy-girl vocals, each backing the other – but importantly, never becoming saccharine. The lyrics sometimes touch on the train-of-thought; was the second half of a couplet intended, or did it just rhyme?

It works. And not just on the slower, meandering tracks – ‘Baby’ and the almost Dylanesque post-argument lament, ‘Mean’ – but particularly on the faster-paced efforts. The almost punkish ‘On My Team’ is an undoubted album highlight, all scuzzy baseball boots, worn leather jackets amid that gorgeous East Coast light.

While unlikely to win any over who aren’t already deep in the mellow fuzz of The Babies’ contemporaries – or, naturally, parent bands – ‘Our House on the Hill’ is at least a welcome addition to their lexicon; its 50s-tinged ‘woah-oh’ backing vocals and neo-retro chord changes just wistful enough.