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MAY 15TH, 2023

Despite their name there’s nothing cut-rate about Coupons’ latest album Wasted Intimacy. The only discount you’re getting here is a doggone good deal for some delectable tunes. I hear myriad influences all over this record. The Shins. Fruit Bats. 70s AM radio. New Zealand 80s indie pop. Elephant 6 collective-esque vibes. Emo pop-punk. There are tempo changes and loud guitars and smooth drumming and laid back grooves and intricate instrumentation and great lyrics and pop hooks galore.

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Album opener “Mardi Gras” encapsulates the record as a whole. A drum and bass combo leading off a steady groove before a guitar line brings some quirky pop delight. This was my first experience with Coupons oeuvre. And I felt this track could have sat perfectly on one of two back-to-back mid-90s Zumpano albums released on Sub Pop. The track bops along for the first 2:40 until a slowed down extended outro lets you know that loud guitars are allowed. Which is immediately proven true with the emo pop-punk of track 2, “Waiting.”  But if you think you’ve pigeon holed their sound they go and change things up again with vocal duties on “Milk.” With “Four Wheel Drive” we’re four songs in and about to be hit with an Americana-tinged country waltz where Dan LaFave sings with sincerity: “I just want to tell you / You’re my best friend.” 

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The halfway highlight is “Break a Leg.” After a swelling piano intro the beat turns into something akin to the Adam Schlesinger penned “That Thing You Do” from the self same Tom Hanks film and his fictional band The Wonders. But for all the great songs on this album they saved the best for last: “Japanese Whiskey.” It’s moody and melancholic and groovy and simply a great song. Dan’s falsetto asks: “Is it any wonder? / Is it any mystery at all?” What’s not a mystery is whether you should listen to this album. The answer will always be a resounding: Yes.

- Trent Ryan Smith

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