They don’t make bands like Meg & Dia anymore—well, at least they haven’t since the ’90s, when smart girls (whoa) who played their own instruments (gasp) and wrote their own tunes (double gasp) infiltrated the mainstream and underground. But the Salt Lake City quintet—which is named after sisters/vocalists/songwriters Meg and Dia Frampton, onetime Las Vegas residents—has earned its reputation because of brainy lyrics that transcend a Warped Tour pedigree.
Like Meg & Dia’s 2006 breakthrough, Something Real, the new Here, Here and Here combines emo-ish pop and rock tunes with literary allusions and weighty lyrics. Unlike Real, however, Here features heavy-duty production from Howard Benson (Mae, Head Automatica). His influence helps Meg & Dia’s confidence; gone are their shaky, Tegan & Sara-ish moments, but the glossy sheen often makes the music sound too slick or cheesy. Several forays into twang-rock and metallic hard rock fall flat, while even the wispy ballads can become a bit too saccharine.
Better are Here’s lyrics, which avoid sounding too maudlin or sophomoric. The piano-buoyed “Hug Me” is based on Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, while “Inside My Head” name-checks Dickens and appears to address an abusive relationship (“My boyfriend used my palm as an ashtray/And that was on his good days”). Other tunes touch on marriage pressure (“Going Away”), subverting expectations (standout pop-rocker “The Last Great Star in Hollywood”) and what happens when love becomes too familiar (the country duet “Bored of Your Love”).