Goes Missing

by: Cairo Gang

On their excellent 2013 EP Tiny Rebels, the Cairo Gang reinvented themselves as jangle poppers extraordinaire, channeling the Byrds, Love, and half the bands on the Pebbles comps to deliver some truly lovely 12-string guitar-driven lo-fi sounds. On Goes Missing, the album that followed in 2015, the Gang's leader, Emmett Kelly, goes back to the well and brings back another serving of jingle-jangle goodness. The fidelity has been boosted, this time the guitars ring much more clearly and Kelly's pleasingly plain, nakedly honest voice is way out front, and there is more variety to the record, but it delivers the same high level of satisfaction. Working mostly by himself, though his live band members drummer Marc Riordan and bassist Joshua Abrams help out occasionally, Kelly cranks out an album's worth of hooky, chiming nuggets of guitar pop that will have listeners checking the liner notes to see if they are covers of lost '60s garage classics. He effortlessly plugs into the guitar-jangle-plus-melancholic-melody equation so perfectly it's hard to believe it when the credits list him as the songwriter. Not that he's stuck in the '60s exclusively or trapped in any one sound alone. With uptempo tracks like the lilting "Be What You Are" or almost-rocking "Ice Fishing" adding some '70s power pop or "The Open Sky" bringing some laid-back Laurel Canyon feels, and some muted drum machines and almost avant-garde vocal harmonies here and there, Kelly shows just the right amount of variety and weirdness throughout. There's even a song that feels modern, as "Gangsters Holding Hands" teaches their Felt-loving contemporaries a thing or two. The only mild stumble is the near a cappella "Some Other Time," which sounds like it could have come from an earlier, less pop-oriented album. It's not a huge problem, just a blip on an otherwise brilliant display of songcraft and low-budget production. Kelly and the Cairo Gang may have started out plying a quirky, inward-looking brand of folk; now they are the brightest, shimmery-est, most impressive folk-rock revivalists around and Goes Missing is as good as guitar pop gets in 2015. ~ Tim Sendra

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