Having had dozens of synth-pop bands who ape the sounds of the '80s for one long, lame "ironic" joke, there's now another good one doing it for serious. And S.F.'s Still Flyin' even started as a gag -- with band leader Sean Rawls assembling more than a dozen rotating friends to play in what was envisioned as a joke reggae band, complete with its own festival held on a cruise ship (or, fantastically, under the sea).
But there's almost nothing jokey about the band's second full-length album, On a Bedroom Wall, which comes out today: Assembling lean, danceable pop out of the familiar '80s-era tools -- chorus-drenched guitars, pastel synths, Rototom rolls -- Still Flyin' turn out 10 songs that feel indebted to the John Hughes decade, but not quite of it. Tunes like "Big Trouble in Little Alabama" and "Spirits" exude an adolescent naivete cast in bittersweet tones. The sense of hopeless yearning -- "I don't wanna need a jacket in July," Rawls whines on the final track, like a true San Franciscan -- is so blunt that it's disarming. Still Flyin' capture you with their charm. And the songs are positively addictive, especially first singles "Travelin' Man" and "Spirits":
We're serious: On a Bedroom Wall is easily one of the best local indie-pop albums we've heard in 2012. The band celebrates its release June 10 at Rickshaw Stop. And since the jokey days are behind for this band, don't expect to see 15 people onstage.