[FRENCH VANILLA POP] With the Zac Efron swoop 'do and Huck Finn cutoffs of a perennial cool kid, Jason Davis hardly embodies the adult byproduct of an awkward childhood. Yet the 24-year-old Archeology singer speaks of himself and his equally American Appareled bandmate, Daniel Walker, as if they were card-carrying members of the outcast club. "Dan and I," he says with an abashed smile, "we are bizarre old souls."
Growing up in Naches, Wash. (pop. 700), Davis was culturally influenced by gawky combination of Elvis, Blink 182, the Bangles and sucking at sports. "As a kid, I never played catch with my dad," Davis reflects. "We sat around and talked about, you know, the industrial war complex."
Listening to The Wildwood Hymns, the second in Archeology's planned series of five EPs, it's clear a life of introspection has tempered the group's giddy pop ditties. While impish Death Cab vocals and sunshiny sounds complete with glockenspiel peg the boys of Archeology as candidates to become Portland's new twee sweethearts (a friend succinctly described the band as sounding like "summer fairies"), the band's lyrics tremble like a bubbly cocktail of sage literary professor mixed with tortured-soul teen. "Shadows follow me home/ Like ghosts from my past," the duo sings cheerily on "The Danvers State." "I'm never alone/ They cut like knives from the drawer I hid out of sight." In "MCMXIV," a chorus of "I wanna sing and dance every time we meet" is punctuated with the sound of shattering glass, while "Bins and Boxes" scores the plight of Portland's homeless community to an arpeggio of glockenspiel and plucked piano strings.
The latter isn't Archeology's only song about Portland. Though the band only moved here last summer—after brief dalliances with Michigan and California—Archeology is eager to prove it's devotion to its adopted city. That explains why Wildwood Hymns is the second in a series of five EPs that are all about Portland. "[Our music is] a love song to this city," Davis says excitedly, explaining the album's stream of starry-eyed musical references to Laurelhurst and the Crystal Ballroom. "We want to be embraced by Portland—not to 'make it' at music...but just because we are in love with this city!" Portland might just love Archeology, with its sweet tunes and even sweeter sentiments, back.
Archeology plays Satyricon on Thursday, June 4, with Forgive Durden. 8 pm. $12. All ages.