I Am the West
[Pop Heart Records]

Sometime in the oughts, folk and shoegazy pop crossbred, creating a sparse, drony, soundtrack for coffee-shops gently orbiting the moon. Is this Chan Marshall’s fault? And has somebody named it already?

In any case, whoever’s responsible, and whatever it’s called, I’m all for it. As are the Lovers; lead singer and writer Carolyn Berk’s tunes range from mid-tempo to slow. Everything’s a dreamy trudge; a nice fuzzy blanket of sound, sprinkled with sweet little songwriting shivers: a touch of harmony here, a dollop of strings there. I go back and forth on which is my favorite tune…but Let’s Stay Lost is certainly a contender. It has a syncopated keyboard and drum intro, ending in a half beat of silence before Berk comes in with a hooky, strolling vocal line “You and me babe/we got lost in the same maze,”; a couple more couplets and then there’s another voice, singing long held “ahhhhs” — and then you get to a fantastic, weird, bridge, with the bandmembers doing sunny, almost Beach Boys harmonies while somebody plays what sounds like a banjo. “Stay Another Night” is great too; it’s got the slow grace of Dylan’s ballads, plus a goofy keyboard burble halfway through and some fuzz feedback at the end — plus that banjo again. I love banjo.

The only downside is that Berk’s lyrics are sometimes a little too clever for their own good. “Your eyes are two deep pools of mud” is funny,; following it with “Maybe I got stuck/Baby I got stuck” is kind of beating a dead metaphor around the bush. Even if you’re occasionally tuning out the words, though, this is a thoroughly enjoyable album.

I Dub Thee: Shoefolk?
Or Maybe: Birkenstockgaze?