The way things will be

The Goodnight Process offer a strong debut
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  March 11, 2009

JUST WAKING UP The Goodnight Process get started.

Goodnight Process with Loverless + Number! The Stars + Fairmont + Better Than | at the Station, in Portland | March 21 | www.myspace .com/thegoodnightprocess 
The Goodnight Process have a little bit of the next-big-thing about them. Frontman Dean Ford has been working the all-ages circuit for years, gaining a reputation for smart lyrics well delivered. Guitarist Dan Capaldi looks like a good guy to have in a band, considering he holds down the drum stool for the Cambiata and was a rock for the short-lived but excellent In the Arms of Providence. He even helped out on Marie Moreshead's debut EP, working nicely within that stripped-down atmosphere. Add in a debut EP, The Way Things Are, recorded and mixed by Jon Wyman and mastered by Adam Ayan, and you've got yourself a damn fine package ready for some big things.

Ford's in the post-pop camp that loves big choruses and sweet melodies, but never lets things get too saccharine, keeping a minor or ironic vibe in most songs. These tunes bounce and bop, but are well above Tiger Beat fare. Ford shares a bit of Cambiata frontman Chris Moulton's aesthetic, with good range and infused with emotion, but there's more of a smile in his voice, like what you find with Ben Folds.

"Stand So Tall" comes barreling out of the gate with big guitars and a building string suite in background (full disclosure: Maddy Landry, the new fiddler for my band, supplies violin work here, but I didn't know that until Ford sent me over the liner notes). You might be reminded of Peter Bjorn & John, both for the clean delivery and the bright arrangement.

Like most of the six songs on the EP, this one's a relationship-dweller, but Ford mostly is positive and upbeat with his girl songs. Here, they're in it together: "They'll never catch us." And he's the coach: "Don't waste your time worrying about what they say ... stand up so tall, they won't be able to reach you, able to tear you down." The bridge, with Ford all vulnerable and flowing into a Spouse-like guitar melody, then "oh-oh" backing vocals mixed to the back, is pretty terrific.

There's words of encouragement all over this disc, actually. With a Tom Jones swagger in the title track, Ford assures us "it's the way that things are/It won't get easier/I know it's hard, but we'll make it through/I swear this to you/Oh, we'll make it through, I swear this to you." All right. I'm in. As long as you stick with the hand claps.

Even with just six tunes the EP is well arranged, too. Opening with three short radio-friendly numbers, they deliver with the ultimate single at song four, refraining from showing their hand too quickly. "Go See a Shrink" opens with one of the best vocal turns you'll hear locally this year, Ford supported by a bit of his own acoustic guitar and an organ bounce and then the glockenspiel. And even though you know the launch into a big pop song is coming, it still gets your heart racing a bit: "Hey, I don't have a problem, anymore/I admit, I can be a bit rough on the edges, for sure." The bridge has "bop-bop" backing and a dissonant guitar effect that gets at the mental instability being denied.

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