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Ivy: Guestroom (Minty Fresh)

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Containing 10 cover songs, Guestroom veers in style and approach. Critically acclaimed through a handful of exceptional CDs and EPs, Ivy have flitted through the musical landscape loved, but hitless. That said, the three-piece has been able to sustain a career on a variety of independent and major labels, finding themselves a rabid, growing fanbase despite a near-complete lack of radio play and the usual sad tale of corporate indifference.

We could go on and on about that label neglect, alone, but won’t. Suffice to say: this group’s always maintained a sharp pop edge, with a distinct sense of moodiness; Andy Chase and Adam Schlesinger write killer hooks; and vocalist Dominique Durand seems a perfect frontperson to sell records. Despite the pros, the group’s been a commercial underachiever. So, it might be a perfect union for this group to land on Chicago’s Minty Fresh imprint, which specializes in left-of-center pop.

Containing 10 cover songs, Guestroom veers in style and approach, with some of their best-sounding work yet. That starts right at the onset, with a disco-ey version of The Cure’s “Let’s Go to Bed.” It’s as unfunky and robotic as the original; perfect! The disc’s most hummable cut might be next: their version of Nick Heyward’s “Kite,” on which Durand hits upon a combination of whimsy and longing that’ll leave you breathless. And, after a decent version of labelmate’s Papas Fritas’ “Say Goodbye,” they light upon another real winner, the Go-Betweens’ “Streets of Your Town,” a lovely, melancholy cut that’d slip perfectly onto the B-side of an Ivy single.

Dipping into New Wave and classic pop, the band also highlights songs by House of Love, Steely Dan, Blow Monkeys (a nice version of “Digging Your Scene,” of course), Serge Gainsborug, the Ronettes, and Edwyn Collins, whose “I Guess I’m Just a Little Too Sensitive” is culled from an earlier release.

This is a funny little record. An unexpected, pleasant twist that grows on you with repeated listens. And, frankly, if you only dipped four cuts deep, you’d be pleased.

Ivy Nation should be satisfied, indeed.

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