Team up the keyboard that is so fashionable, for now at least, with straightforward sensitive guy pop that is, as it always will be, a bit dorky. But it's not such a tough job, and somebody might as well do it. Goner sing about growing older while not growing any wiser. The songs are descriptive narratives of characters tired and unhappy--with their jobs, their towns, their bodies, and their futile attempts to articulate such frustration.
Scott Phillips and Greg Eyman share songwriting and singing duties, but it's Phillips' voice that is most distinctive, in part because of a sharp resemblance to the Dismemberment Plan's Travis Morrison. The similarities mostly end there, as Goner sticks to familiar structures that let loose a bit every once in a while, but otherwise remain trimmed, earnest and kept afloat by melody.
Phillips' keys also dominate Goner's sound. Some of Eyman's tunes carry the energy quite easily, like "The Encore" that starts with harmony and ends with keyboard scree, and "The Lazy Star" bounces like early Ben Folds Five. "Northgate 6" is a ballad to an abandoned movie theater, and nostalgia that could come cheap actually pays off. In other places they aspire to resonate in ways that the keyboard alone simply can't quite do. But the acute sentiment is felt in lyrics that read like Springsteen in suburban sprawl, verging on nihilism, and without even a river to go down to. Still, you gotta wonder whether all that shy sweet guy stuff is just put on to get you to make out with them. Oh go ahead, they're kinda cute.