The Morning After Girls are ready for prime time, ready for their close up, with a live set that takes the best from their new material — “Who Is They” finished the set — and the best of the old. This is a powerfully constructed band, with tight vocal harmonies woven like a sash between Sasha Lucashenko and Martin B. Sleeman, who share guitar duties.
Long ago, the story goes, novelist Scott Turow mentioned to his law firm partners that he would soon have a thriller out, and his partners asked if it was going to be big. He was confident enough – and knew his publisher’s budget – to say, “It’s going to billboard-on-the-back-of-the-bus big.” So goes the suspicion about what the Morning After Girls could be. They could be Oasis big. They’re also going to delight critics, most of the time. Think of the Stone Roses, at least for the vocals. And they split the difference between the louche ’60s guitar sound of the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the tight hook-laden pop careerism of the early Dandy Warhols. You know they were torn over who to root for when they saw Dig!
The problem with the Mercury Lounge as a showcase is they got about two seconds to set up, and the sound’s bad to begin with. And this is an ambitious band whose guitar lines are precise, who use pedals and phase-shifting atmospherics, and whose harmonies need to jell. Too often it sounded like one of the guitars was just a little out of tune, or at least stuck in the maw. Oh, but when they rolled through “Shadows Evolve,” and got to “Chasing Us Under” it all worked. The vocals were on, the guitar lines snaked over and around each other. “Chasing Us Under” was worthy of Dean Wareham and Sean Eden, maybe even Lloyd and Verlaine. For a band built on melody and guitar dynamics, they put up a big ruckus.
The new members of the band play tight. Can’t wait, for their sake and ours, for The Morning After Girls to play a set with clean sound, after a sound check. A very good New York debut under less than ideal conditions.