Commerce - The Things I Say vs. The Things I Mean (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


The Things I Say vs. The Things I Mean (2010)

Littlest Sounds

Commerce first struck a chord with me on their 2009 EP, What Happens Now, thanks to its sincere tone that reminded me of an old, obscure favorite: Pacific Northwest's emotive indie pop act the Pale Pacific. But even then the band incorporated plenty of their own elements, which gave them a lightly expansive sound that was impressive for such an early start. Their proper debut LP, The Things I Say vs. The Things I Mean, is the logical followup, although it definitely straddles the line even harder between the sincere and the just straight sappy.

Opener "It Was Certain to Happen" offers a contrast of both the playful and inherently mopey, with cutesy/sad keys and a solid buildup and bust. On "The Same Time", things start to head south just a bit. The vocals are far more frail and mousey in spots; think the most raw, cringeworthy moments in Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate)'s catalog, and you have a good idea of what I'm talking about. It's not bad, though if you have a certain threshold for what the more masculine might refer to as "whiny bullshit," it'll be tested here and there on the LP.

"Back Porch of Your Mind" is a fairly typical track about the unsureness of being a primary pick in a relationship, and the singing is held back and a bit shaky, but it might be a first-half standout with its nimble melodies and soft shuffle. The heavier electronic beginning to "Missing Parts" makes its first half resemble a glossier, simpler leftover from Give Up. The second half feels a little more emotionally steady, with a little more confidence in a track like "Leave a Key", and the rhythmic fuzz of "Reckless Fool".

This album's a little more lilting than I might have expected from Commerce, but it's not a huge setback. Definitely a decent enough debut.

The Same Time
Missing Parts
Talking Trash