On Ivy's second album, 1997's Apartment Life, the New York trio pulled off a small miracle, nailing the kind of effortless effervescence most power poppers can only aspire to. Multi-instrumentalists Andy Chase and Adam Schlesinger (also a member of Fountains of Wayne) and Paris-born vocalist Dominique Durand (Chase's wife) alternated between Motown-on-the-Mersey firecrackers like "The Best Thing" and "Get Out of the City" and more downcast but no less beguiling tracks like "Back in Our Town" and "I Get the Message." Durand's distracted, somewhat distant singsong played against the urgency of the upbeat tunes and kept them from cloying; on the ballads, that same detachment kept the melancholy from weighing too heavily. Ivy's new Long Distance (Nettwerk) isn't quite in the same league--for one thing, it's moodier, with an infusion of lazy, faux-jazzy trip-hop keyboards that leaves less room for the group's fabulous guitar hooks. But a moody album seems an appropriate way for the band to respond to its recent history: the release of Long Distance comes after four years of record company go-rounds (Ivy was dropped by Atlantic two days into an eight-week tour to promote Apartment Life, only to be picked up by Sony--and then dropped again), the birth of Chase and Durand's child, and a fire that forced the group out of its Meatpacking District studio. That's not to say nothing on the new record shimmers like the old stuff, though: while the lyric of "Lucy Doesn't Love You" isn't exactly cheering, the warm, Bacharach-style horn arrangement and chunky rhythm guitar certainly are. Ivy nods to its roots with a sly, playful version of the Blow Monkeys' 80s new-wave gem "Digging Your Scene" (the album's only cover), and "Blame It on Yourself" brims with aural wit--its effects-heavy guitar solo is deliberately and comically out of place in an Ivy song, and on the penultimate chorus Durand's processed singing sounds like your own voice does inside your head when your ears are clogged up. Thursday, October 25, 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Phillipe Garcia.