I listened to Chutes Too Narrow 12 or 13 years ago, when I possibly could still remember the Garden State thing, and it made no impression on me. I haven’t listened to this band since.
Mercer’s songs are decent. They’re reasonably catchy, and somewhat relatively diverse given the genre. His lyrics are pretty good, I think. There’s nothing super ambitious here, that the “indie pop” label might suggest, but I’ve discovered that “indie pop” (and “indie rock”) means something a lot less definitive in the 21st century than it did in the ’90s. Still, they work, I think.
The sound is a little more diverse than I was expecting or remembering. There are folkier songs but there are touches of psychedelia here and there, too. I should emphasize “touches” but enough to get them labeled psychedelic. (Really, all you need is a touch to get people clamouring about how “psychedelic” such and such band is.) The thing that makes me happy is that they are definitely weirder than some of their contemporaries.
Mercer’s one of those singers who seems to be kind of ashamed he’s the centre of the band. His voice is back in the mix but also has a weird echo on it. The whole record is produced sort of oddly, as if somebody was listening to too much obscure British neo psychedelia from the early ’80s. It doesn’t sound great 20 years later, and feels a bit affected. Not every song is like this, and often instruments punch through it (which must be deliberate) but I can’t say I like the sound of the record. This is power pop, guys, it shouldn’t hide. (Well, I should say, this should be power pop, but the production gets in the way.)
But, on the whole, it’s more diverse than I imagined it would be and it’s perfectly fine.