Blast from the Past
Brooklyn quartet Cliffie Swan chose an appropriate title for their third studio album. Musical memories do indeed come true through the band’s ’70s-inspired sound, drawing on the traditions of psychedelic rock and pop.
Memories Come True kicks off with the languid “Soft and Mean,” a great opening track that slips into the record with fuzzy, groovy guitar and bass and layered vocal harmonies. On “Take It Easy” vocalists Sophia Knapp and Linnea Vedder belt out vocal blues worthy of Tapestry-era Carole King. Funky guitars and slinking bass show the band’s disco-pop influences and give them a contemporary twist. “Yes I Love You” readily provokes the sun-kissed imagery of old music videos, with the honey-voiced singers driving down a picturesque western highway.
Memories Come True is a meticulously crafted album. Its songs are composed of dynamic structures with close attention to harmony, melody, and arrangement, particularly in Knapp and Vedder’s beautifully blended vocals. The title track shows the duo singing high, light melodies with subtle hints of blue notes adding flavor to the song’s ethereal, dreamy atmosphere. “Home” depends almost entirely on vocal harmony—the sparse track has only some heavy, sweeping guitar effects and tribal drums accompanying the singers.
Yet the girls (and boys) of Cliffie Swan can also rock out, as they demonstrate on “Full of Pain” and “California Baby.” Heavy fuzzed-out guitars drone under melodic vocals before breaking free into full-out spacey jams, unfurling in rapid-fire riffs and short solos. Knapp is a talented guitarist; “California Baby” features driving riffs and raunchy distortion that maintain a close attention to harmony, drifting from an energetic rock’n’roll song to something resembling catchy, saccharine ’70s pop.
Part of Cliffie Swan’s charm lies in their fusion of modern and older pop-rock, but the rest is pure talent. All in all, Memories Come True is a delightfully multifaceted album, short, sweet and perfect for easy listening in the summertime.