"Numbers Don't Lie" - the Mynabirds
A simple stuttering stomp of a keyboard vamp lies at the center of this nifty piece of neo-retro-gospel-pop (or some such thing; hey, I make this up as I go). While there are clearly a lot of nods to bygone times in the aural landscape of "Numbers Don't Lie," what charms me the most is the subtle but sure sense of currency that likewise defines this song. It is a song that belongs here in 2010 (numbers don't lie, after all), and I think what gives me that impression has to do with clarity of presentation. From the plainly articulated keyboard notes to Laura Burhenn's double-tracked vocals to the instantly enticing melody (note the hook-y chord change comes right in the second measure), all the pieces of the song ring with presence, with a "thereness" that separates a song that transcends its influences from a song that is smothered by them. (And, okay, those telephone-button blips in the bridge are a fun present-day touch too.)
Another point of clarity involves the song's use of reverb, which is effective in its restraint. While the choral-like backing vocals get a reverb rinse, and the rhythm section also maybe a dose of it, Burhenn keeps her lead vocals clean. It makes an understated but incisive difference in the overall sound, and even though reverb is popular in present-day indie rock, this song's judicious use of it makes it seem more real, more its own new thing as a result.
Laura Burhenn is known to some as half of the D.C. duo Georgie James, which played together for three years and released one album on Saddle Creek Records before breaking up in 2008. "Numbers Don't Lie" is the first song made available from What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood, her first release as the Mynabirds, slated for an April release on Saddle Creek. Burhenn by the way named her project after the Mynah Birds, a Canadian R&B band in the '60s that signed to Motown but never released any albums and at one point, impossibly enough, featured both Neil Young and Rick James in its lineup. MP3 via Saddle Creek.