Record Review - 5 December 12 2001

Among the promising outfits affiliated with Philadelphia's latest indie-rock resurgence (read: blip), the Capitol Years may be the band most likely to succeed on the least amount of ambition. But then, ambition can mean different things to different bright lights — and in the studio at least, the Capitol Years' Shai Halperin (aka Shai, Son of Eli) is of the 1,000-watt variety, even if his bulb tends to dim somewhat at the prospect of active self-promotion. Halperin would rather let the music speak for itself. By that same token, Meet Yr Acres speaks volumes without ever seeming to lift a finger, its organic, non-deliberate flow rarely at odds with its keen craftsmanship.

Like many of his Philly brethren, Halperin — who handled all the instruments on Acres and co-produced with ex-Lilys bassist Tom Monahan (Pernice Brothers, Beachwood Sparks) — happily flaunts his obsession with one or more of rock's triple B's (Beatles, Big Star, Badfinger). In Acres' case, the fruits of that fixation are akin to what might've resulted if Beck had infiltrated the Beatles camp during the Let It Be sessions (lines of coke on Ringo's floor tom and all).

As with many gifted songwriters, it's what Halperin doesn't do that makes his period-nostalgic approach special, a "why use four chords when three will do?" formula that affords his simple, derivative melodies a hushed majesty amid the jarring loops and lolling instrumental interludes strewn about the album like so much sky-blue paint splattered on lime-green linoleum. The offhandedly bluesy opener "Roller's Row" chugs along like "Why Don't We Do It in the Road" in a Quaalude-induced stupor; the compact epic "Rolling Hills" and the jammy, tossed-off "Supper" come by their debts to David Bowie and Jerry Garcia, respectively, with eyes wide open and tongue snugly in cheek. Meanwhile, the cozy, pastoral cover of the Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties" sounds less like a quirky late-inning interloper than a fitting finale. Meet Yr Acres' shiftless grace might not register initially, but with a little patience, it'll have you in its crosshairs in no time.