Lower Michigan act seems ready for big time


After eight years of perfecting their brand of catchy ’60s-influenced pop, Ann Arbor’s Saturday Looks Good to Me appear poised to find a larger audience. With a band this talented and accessible, it’s a surprise it hasn’t already happened. Although “Fill Up The Room” isn’t the band’s best work, it is another strong effort. And with Saturday’s popularity on the rise, this might be the record that takes Fred Thomas and company to the next level of success.

Saturday stays true to their sound on “Fill Up The Room,” but Thomas infuses his songwriting with enough new twists to keep the listener guessing.

The emphasis is still on the whole band here, with Thomas’s electric guitar leading the way. His skills as a guitar player are sometimes buried under these simple-sounding songs, but Thomas leaves himself enough room to show off his abilities. As always, songwriting is the band’s main strength, both melodically and lyrically. Thomas’s poetic sense is as sharp as ever. “I was another rubber band around your wrist / Staring at the stairway where we kissed / Were you imagining a world that don’t exist?” he sings over swooning strings.

“(Even If You Die On) The Ocean” finds Thomas reaching deeper into his bag of musical influences to pull out Four Seasons-esque backing vocals and a staccato rhythm guitar line. Periodically forgoing his standard singing style, Thomas takes a few chances with a quasi-spoken word break and loopy melodic variations. Sometimes the risks pay off and sometimes they don’t, but the result is anything but boring. “The Americans” is another standout track, with an instantly engaging melody, and it compares favorably to classic Saturday songs like “When the Party Ends.”

If the album has a weakness, it is the same one that has always followed Saturday: an overabundance of sentimentality. “When our lungs shut down we will rejoice / And shout building butterflies out of our breathing” will probably come off as a little too sugary for a lot of people, but the lyrics play a secondary role in most of these songs, so it’s not a major drawback.

“Fill Up the Room” isn’t the best introduction to Saturday Looks Good To Me (that would be “All Your Summer Songs” or “Every Night”), but it is another solid album in the band’s canon, and worth looking into. The choruses are catchy enough to capture casual listeners’ ears and more discerning fans will be satisfied with the album’s artistic substance. Saturday’s current fan base will be happy with the album and people hearing it for the first time are likely to come away impressed.