Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

The Pearlfishers 

Up With the Larks (Marina)

Over the past 20 years Scotland has treated us to some of the very best power pop and indie jangle known to man. The Pastels, Vaselines, and Teenage Fanclub all hail from the land of kilts and haggis. You can add the Pearlfishers to that list. Since 1989, singer-songwriter David Scott and his ever-rotating backing band have crafted five albums full of Beach Boys-inspired twee. In the process, Scott's songcraft has evolved from lo-fi interpretation of classic '60s pop to basically the real thing. That's quite a development in an era when most pop composers who dream of being Brian Wilson — from the Shins' James Mercer to Kurt Heasley of the Lilys — can't shake the lingering curse of punk: amateurish songwriting and ham-fisted musicianship.

On the ornate Up With the Larks, Scott outdoes his anachronistic self. With production help from Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake, he peels away 40 years of pop history, picking up where Wilson and Van Dyke Parks left off. Both "With You on My Mind" and "The Umbrellas of Shibuya" are rays of California sunshine warming the inner corridors of Tin Pan Alley. Still, all the oboes, strings, airy harmonies, and delicately tickled ivories can get a bit too precious. "Fighting Fire With Flowers" and "Blue Riders on the Range" sound like straight-up inspirational music from alt-Christian dork Michael W. Smith. Then again, Brian Wilson thought he was writing teenage symphonies to God.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Speaking of CD Review

More by Justin F. Farrar

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays