Review: Odds & Ends - Andrew & Polly

Andrew & Polly - Odds & Ends album cover

Andrew & Polly - Odds & Ends album cover

Sometimes album titles don't signify much, but in the case of the brand-new album from Los Angeles-based duo Andrew & Polly, I think it's 100% on point.

Just like the random collection of stuff on the shelf on the album cover art, the tracks here are an assortment of tiny treasures and tracks with less heft.  Unlike many albums, in an interview with them, the duo noted that the album reflects a collection of songs they've written and recorded over time.  Sometimes the results are magical -- "Little Bitta You," a previously-released single, is a zippy and sweet folk-pop song, for example.  And their new song "Grapes" is a strong contender for catchiest kindie track of the year, with a singalong chorus filled with "la la las."

At other points, it does feel like one of those "B-Side" collections that your favorite power-pop band might have released after fifteen years together -- your XTCs, your Fountains of Wayne. There are three covers ("Forever Young," "Here Comes the Sun," and my favorite of the three, "Ghostbusters"), for example plus "Critters," their non-religious take on Bill Staines' classic "All's God's Critters" ("got a place in the choir / some sing low / some sing higher...").

Andrew & Polly have been devoting a lot of attention to their podcast for kids Ear Snacks, and some tracks feel very much like excerpts like that.  "Ghostbusters," with a lot of kid-interaction, was sort of a prototype for the podcast, while "Fruitphabet" is a playful thing, more sound-and-word-play than pop song.  At 28 minutes in length, the album's brevity -- it's barely more than an EP -- is one more thing that makes me think of this as a "B-side" collection.

The album is most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 6, and I should make clear that my middle-aged perspective on what an album "is" (or isn't) won't matter to the kids, who will sometimes groove and other times laugh to the folky, smart, and weird stuff on Odds & Ends.  Ear Snacks is a genuinely original podcast as well.  Andrew & Polly can write such sharp music, that I'm very much looking forward to the next set of songs from the duo, which they say will be a coherent concept album.  In the meantime, there are some tiny treasures on this album, and those will do just fine.  Recommended.

Note: I was given a copy of the album for possible review.