From The Comas to The Kingsbury Manx, the Triangle's produced some great blissed-out pop. North Elementary now belongs in the same Advanced Placement class: Like frontman John Harrison's old band, The Comas, North Elementary traffics in spacey noise-pop shimmer that competes with a shambling '60s folk-psych undercurrent. Their third album, Not For Everyone, Just for You, often feels like The Jesus & Mary Chain's Reid Brothers meeting the Flaming Lips in the Left Banke, gracefully balancing hooky jangle and textured drift. While 2004's Lose Your Favorite Things was a fine album, it wasn't nearly as polished or crafted as this, getting by as it did as much on spunk as smarts. At 13 songs, it sprawled compared to the tightly knit nine of their latest, whose sequencing accentuates the profile of each song.
North Elementary puts its best foot forward with "Decade Styling," Harrison's breathy croon contemplating impermanence amid a wash of icy synths and big guitar hooks glinting against a starlit backdrop. It's mostly irresistible. "Golden Tigers," the creamy third track, boasts a silky shine that relies on a jangling folk riff, watercolor keyboard wash, and peals of pedal steel to create a gauzy daydream interrupted by a distortion-drenched guitar break. Six-minute album centerpiece "Ones in Love" follows. The drums are distant snaps echoing from the mid-'80s, though the song luxuriates in Britpop torpor before blowing up after the verse, vaguely reminiscent of Radiohead's "Creep." The scope and ambition are impressive, far outstripping anything North Elementary's done to date.
However, it may be that they're best with the succinct pop-rockers, which follow the ballads one after the other across the disc. While more meditative, the last half of the album's almost as strong as its start, highlighted by the sugary swirl of "Speed of Lies" and the coolly droning thrum of "I'm Not Foolin'." Though occasionally too langorous for daylight hours, it's among the best Triangle pop records of the decade.
North Elementary's John Harrison plays Fuse solo Tuesday, April 14. The band plays The Pinhook with The Sames Friday, April 17, at 10 p.m., and has a seven-inch release show with Wembley and Pistolero at Local 506 Thursday, April 23, at 9 p.m.