Thursday, February 10, 2011

Album Review - The Fresh & Onlys - Play It Strange

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
The Fresh and Onlys
Play It Strange
*** out of *****

Retro spaced out jangles act as huge flowers and The Fresh & Onlys stop to smell them often as they ramble through the prairie that is Play It Strange.  Packed to the brim with washed out vocals floating above and behind layers of dreamy space guitars as organs and screeches pulse just below the surface.  The whole sound presented would probably float off your turntable if it wasn't for the constant force provided by the drumming which places a push pin into the cosmic sound, grounding it to planet earth.

The majority of Play It Strange are quick tunes that come in, then quickly say good-night before you can get a handle on them which only adds to their mystery.  "Be My Hooker" has a slapping punk pop combined with a ringing guitar ling that shines, "Fascinated" is a sweet/stalker '50's twist and shake motif, while "Waterfall" motors and discusses the death of TV and radio.  The lone exception to the brevity is shown in "Tropical Island Suite" which plays for 7 minutes, but in reality feels like 3 of The Fresh & Only Songs combined into one, in the vein of the Who's "A Quick One While He's Away", but not on that level. 

While the music presented on Play It Strange is consistently engaging the vocals/lyrics and specifically the effects coating them can be become distracting; a cleaner approach on this front would go along way to make the songs much more memorable.  While the distortion enhances the dreaminess of the guitars it can be awful frustrating waking from dreams and not remembering what was said.  

There seems to be a lot of retro-hazyiness going around these days, but honestly there could be worst phases, what am I saying, there has been and their currently are!  So day-dreamy pop/rock from the jangling past isn't nearly that horrific.  I enjoyed listening to this album, especially the drumming, will it change the world?  No.  Is it better then any of the other "retro" releases to come along?  Probably not.  Will it stick around long in the old noogin'?  Doubtful?  Does any of this matter?  Again, probably not.  If the vocals weren't so cloudy I think the album would play a whole lot better...but...apparently these kids today love their vocal effects.

It is a light fun listen, probably better fitted for a summer drive then a cold winter day, but give it a whirl...some tunes:

"Summer of Love"

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