I'm down with anyone wanting to pay homage to the great Elvis Costello. Adam Widener's idea for a great album cover isn't where the brilliance of Vesuvio Nights ends. The reason he's holding a bass on said cover, as opposed to Costello holding a guitar, is because bass is Widener's primary instrument here. Every song except maybe 'Telephone Traps' is framed by the bass and the bass is heavy in the mix. The bass is crucial to these tunes because they're pretty standard power pop fare unless Widener injects what are essentially punk bass lines into each of them.
Widener plays everything on Vesuvio Nights and he's able to pull off that sound-like-a-band trick. Every tune is tightly wound and quickly paced. Of the 14 songs, 4 are under 2 minutes, 9 are under 3 minutes, and only 'Pools of Light' slightly passes 3 minutes. The title track starts off as a mid-temp album anomaly but kicks into gear around the :20 mark. There're two guitar parts in every song. but the lead is mostly used as a tasteful accent. Solos are employed very sparingly. The longest of them arrives towards the end of 'Gentle Swarm' and it's certainly a near-Mascis-esque album highlight. Widener's vocals here are akin to John Dwyer and his predilection for reverb-y howling, a psychedelic staple.
Vesuvio Nights is pop done right. There's absolutely nothing to pick at here. It's great for driving and dance halls. It actually sounds a bit like early Strokes. If anyone can present me with a better example of where Vesuvio Nights is aiming, I'll show them Adam Wideners next album.
The Verdict: 4 Bedpans