Arriving at the onset of summer, Talking Through Tin Cans marks the Morning Benders' full-length debut on +1 Records. Singer/guitarist Chris Chu originally launched the band as a solo project in 2005, and he remains in the driver's seat on these 11 tracks, handling most of the production duties while claiming all songwriting credits. His tunes are quick and economical, often relying on clear-cut hooks and melodies rather than ambience, and much of Talking Through Tin Cans could very well be a solo record. But Chu's three bandmates do make themselves known — not necessarily in the harmonies that flank many of Chu's vocals (those are the frontman's own overdubs, after all), but certainly in the sonic explorations that pepper Side B, from the nocturnal "Wasting Time" to the haunting reverb and echoing guitars that make "Chasing a Ghost" such an aptly titled song. San Francisco's pop scene has seen its share of strong newcomers in 2008, and the Morning Benders join the ranks of the Botticellis in offering up an album that's youthful but studied, as if the bands' proximity to the Pacific Ocean has bestowed upon them the same gifts for melody and summery songcraft that helped the define the California sound several decades prior. The Morning Benders aren't nearly as indebted to Brian Wilson as the Botticellis, and the trebly strum of Chu's acoustic guitar (which anchors such pop nuggets as "Crosseyed" and "Damnit Anna") pushes them closer to the singer/songwriter realm than the ornate sunshine pop of the Beach Boys. But Talking Through Tin Cans is definitely a pop record — one that's full of crisp tambourine snaps, double-tracked vocals, dual guitars, and piano plunkings — and the Morning Benders have a fine debut in their hungover hands. -AMG
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