The Fresh & Onlys - Long Slow Dance

by Alexis Somerville Rating:8.5 Release Date:2012-09-03

San Francisco's The Fresh & Onlys have only been around for five years, but this is already their fourth full-length album, adding to myriad EPs and cassette releases. Often categorised as California surf-pop revivalists, they have in fact been rapidly honing their sound into something more multi-layered and unique. They do at times reference their home-state by way of dreamy surf guitar, sunny melodies and positive vibrations. But their other stylistic nods are towards more dingy, garage, East Coast sounds, dream pop and a touch of British shoegaze.

Even at its most melancholy, Long Slow Dance is essentially a feel-good album. Despite the title, the folky 'Executioner's Song' isn't exactly downbeat, with its Beirut-esque brass and lilting chorus. Elsewhere you'll find romantic sentiments in abundance. The title track is catchy and sweet, stating: "You'll be the purest of wine and I'll be the dirty cup/ We'll pour a little drink to the perfect romance." The doo-wop ditty 'Wanna Do Right By You' comes complete with delightful harmonies and bluesy piano.

Singer Tim Cohen's voice is laidback and unpretentious enough to pull off deadpan, as evidenced in 'Foolish Person' where he states: "I don't wanna be a fool anymore/ and fall into another trapdoor… I don't wanna be a stupid person". 'Dream Girls' is an insouciant ode to heartbreakers who "don't know what they're doing/ They go round doing anything they want". Lyrically they may not be breaking new ground, but their simple stories of romance and heartbreak are the perfect accompaniment to their captivating melodies.

At times they speed up and evince a more garage punk sound, with driving guitar and harder vocals on the likes of 'Euphoria' and 'Take Back the Night'. Closer 'Yes or No' is rousing and danceable with some decidedly 90s guitar echoing in the mix and vocals that could almost be straight out of a Britpop song. Only, y'know, better. Their influences are impeccable and The Fresh & Onlys take their place in a lineage which includes Buddy Holly, The Beach Boys, The Cramps and more recently Girls, Thee Oh Sees and Best Coast.

The songwriting quality on the album is consistently high. Stylistically, it appears on first listen not to be too diverse, evoking California beaches, sliding into the evening when everyone's a little drunk and pushing their way into grimy discos. With repeated listens, the variety of musical leanings becomes clearer. The Fresh & Onlys have developed their sound in an impressively short time, and Long Slow Dance brings together all the elements that have been working in their favour from the start.

Overall Rating (0)

0 out of 5 stars
  • No comments found
Related Articles