Band: Carl Cunningham

Album Title: Life Ruiner

First Impression: Cool group (yes, they’re a group) of musicians not afraid to take some risks in the interest of making a neat little indie-pop record.

Album In One Word: Clever

Sounds Like: Belle and Sebastian meets Sunny Day Real Estate.

Makes Me Feel: Like writing something witty.

Why This Band Is Unique: How many other bands that you know of have written a song to Mary-Kate Olsen?

Who Would Like This Album: Twee-pop kids with a jones for pop-cultural references and a little cheeky sweetness to spare.

Recommended Song: “Bangs 11”
Carl Cunningham is what happens when a group of clever people get together and pen some simple yet effective indie-pop gems.

The group’s sense of humor is one of its strongest assets; the album features a song called “I Wish I Could Put This Into Words” in which there are no words, “Mary Kate Are You OK?” is a cheeky get-well card to Mary Kate Olsen, and “Dating a Stripper” is, well, about the positive and negative aspects of romantic involvement with an exotic dancer. Apart from the fun (and funny) lyrical antics of Carl Cunningham’s lighter work, however, are some pretty, catchy tunes.

“Fake a Smile,” with its folk-ballady pacing and sensitively-strummed guitar part could have come from an Iron & Wine EP. The classic archetype of a “coffee-house song,” “Fake a Smile" is an early standout.

“Bangs 11” is the hands-down star of this album, despite some competition from the almost-as-stellar closer, “Over It!” The building, climbing guitars and back-up vocals are the full realization of Carl Cunningham as a whole entity and the climax at the end will make any listener fall in love with it.

The rest of the album follows suit as a solid indie-pop offering. Despite a bit of a slow-down with “Untitled for Now” and “You Can’t Cry If You Don’t Have Eyes” the album gets back on track with “I Noticed Your Side-Part and Loved It,” which sounds like a harmonica-infused Sunny Day Real Estate outtake, and “Over It!,” a contender for the esteemed position of Recommended Song.

Overall, Life Ruiner is a fantastic listen and deserves a place in anyone’s album collection. (Dan Moore)
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