If John Hughes’ film, The Breakfast Club, takes the Saturday morning shift of depicting the angst of a disenchanted teen world, then Art Museums—the wonky flashback pop duo of Josh Alper and Glenn Donaldson sharing guitar and vocal chops—happily picks up the slack for the nightcap, creating a fun and carefree refuge of old-school adolescent solace. A colorful kaleidoscope of timbre, Art Museums paint a lo-fi retro soundscape of pastel pop and bubblegum fun. “It’s a jangle shirt with a post-punk scarf,” Donaldson emails to Good Times. Part ’60s mod wrapped in the magnetic tape of C-86 and topped by twee, Art Museums meld various feel-good jams under the fuzzy buzz of an analog 8-track. “There’s a certain gauze the Tascam 388 puts over the music,” Alper muses, referencing the layer of haze mulling throughout the group’s first full-length, Rough Frame, echoing the D.I.Y. punk mentality of the ’80s. For Alper, the ’80s was a time of musical self-realization. Going to the record store and mining through the vaulted cassette and vinyl stacks was an escape.
Discovering alternative gems like Television Personalities, Men Without Hats, and Depeche Mode made those tedious searches worthwhile. “I wasn’t playing music in high school,” Alper confesses, “but I had this passion inside. Listening to these groups was like seeing what you wanted to be, what resonates within. It’s kinda like coming out. An archetype kinda thing.” Today, signed to Woodsist, Alper and Donaldson put out tracks that celebrate life in a whole-hearted fashion. “It’s absurd, but it’s fun,” Alper notes, pointing to the underlying message strewn within Art Museums’ sound: Bust out of your clique, dance and have a blast! Although a two-piece in the studio, Art Museums amplify on stage with Carly Flies (Green Flash) on bass and Virginia Weatherby (The Mantles) on drums. The four musicians used to dance at Popscene together. “It doesn’t sound much different than a band you may have seen 30 years ago,” Flies breaks it down. “It’s a fun band to be in.” And together they make a fun band to watch, with dancing audiences confirming that Art Museums may just be the perfect remedy to a case of ’80s nostalgia.
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