The Fresh & Onlys - Wolf Lie Down

by Rob Taylor Rating:5 Release Date:2017-08-25

The Fresh & Onlys have been kicking around for a while now, and play psychedelic pop/rock infused with the brighter colours on the spectrum, as you might expect of San Franciscans. Those colours barely fade; perhaps only momentarily when the shades come down for a bit of noisy guitar interplay. It’s a style of music that has served them well, but can occasionally drift a bit towards the bland.

So it is on Wolf Lie Down. The most successful tracks are ‘Becomings’, a drifter’s tale with a modern western theme, the percussion rattling in the background like a coal train meandering across a disused rail-line, the twang of a guitar periodically holding a note just long enough to evince some mystery. On ‘Black Widow’ there’s an interesting woodwind counterpoint to the guitars, lacing the song with just enough pathos to distract from the ordinary melancholy of it all. Mercury Rev used to be good at that as well. Writing adult nursery rhymes that cajoled and wrought emotion. It’s lovely stuff but at times it masked the threadbare song beneath.

I loved Mercury Rev, and I like The Fresh & Onlys, so it’s only an observation about what’s happening at the most apathetic end of their musical spectrum. Unfortunately for us, a lot of the other songs occupy that space. The uninspired chorus of ‘Walking Blues’, the lazy melody of ‘One of a Kind’ which some might think epitomises the height of summer contentment, but for me it is merely stocking filler. Cool Outro though, much darker by contrast, like the positive vibes just imploded. ‘Dancing Chair’ is a solid Ramones-lite kind of rocker with an unexpected diversion of synth ensemble, like Ultravox just dropped in for the most unlikely of collaborations.

The Fresh & Onlys can be better than this in my view. A disappointment.    

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