“Sometimes vanilla just tastes so good.”
A friend of mine (Nate Cavalieri) once made that statement in relation to a Steely Dan video he was sharing–and I always remembered it, and thought it made perfect sense in relation to that band’s sort of uber-polished, borderline-bland, radio-friendly pop sound.
Personally I’ve never entirely settled on where I stand with Steely Dan. On one hand it’s ubiquitous radio pop that is overly crisp, with all the dirt washed off and creases ironed out; the sound can be cloying, and as we all know it’s been impossible to escape for decades. On the other, man, when you really listen to some of those songs, they’re impressive. In terms of the writing, yes, but especially the production. And from that perspective alone, an album like Aja deserves its accolades.
Toronto indie-rock band The Darcys today paid tribute to Steely Dan by releasing their own version of Aja–a song-by-song re-creation of the classic 1977 album, though done in their own moody, fuzzy style.