Album Review: Iowa Super Soccer – Stories Without Happy Endings (2010) (Gusstaff Records)

There is always a place in music for pretty. Especially pretty female fronted jangle-pop and Polish band Iowa Super Soccer are the sort of band who would have been front runners in ensuring this continuity if anyone outside of Poland had actually heard of them !?
Well now you have…and if you can stomach ‘overtly pretty’ that ever so occasionally borders on ‘cute’ then this band provide the sugary and beautiful sweetness of a thousand different alcopops. Initially the sweet vocals are what carries much of the album, mixing the tone and texture of numerous Japanese/Korean indie-pop bands to a control that reminds of the prettiest parts of Natalie Merchant’s earlier 10 000 Maniacs work, or the similarly pretty vocals from The Shellye Valauskas Experience.

Such vocals are the perfect vehicle for the beautiful sadcore meets twee listening experience that wraps itself around all manner of subtle jangled riffs in tracks such as Rolling Around, Sunday Comes and the brilliant Someone Like You (see below).

Someone Like You

However, despite the obvious beauty of the jangled sadcore, there are regular occasions when the album provides us with brilliant moments of a genuine twee/indie jangled riffs with bands such as The Trembling Blue Stars and especially the Field Mice receiving constant homage in tracks such as Little Joe, When You Return and the genuine stand out of the release, My World (see below). 

My World

If there were any criticisms of the album they would centre around a uniformity of tempo and sweetness (a little bit of grit is desperately needed by the end of the album) and the fact that tracks such as Suzanne and The Story of our Picture veer off into a country inflected territory without ever appearing comfortable to have found themselves surrounded by the tumbleweed.

However these are slight criticisms about an album that is perfect for those unhurried moments when there is absolutely no need or inclination to stretch the intellect and search for ‘quirk’, cool or meaning. It is just for those moments when you want to be accompanied by sheer beauty… and as such it delivers abundantly.

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