Fresh and Onlys: Play It Strange
The winter coldness got you down? Perhaps the Fresh and Onlys can help warm you up! This San Fran band’s new album, Play It Strange, mixes hazy 60’s surfer grooves (à la the Mamas and the Papas) with fun pop beats, fuzzed-out shoegazer guitars, echo-y vocals and an all-over psychedelic vibe. The album moves along at a pretty good clip, with its upbeat, post-punk drums and most tracks clocking in at just under three minutes.
“Waterfall,” a clear stand-out track, achieves the perfect balance of pop catchiness with fuzzy vocals that almost take to the background, letting guitars take the lead. Barely audible, yet still very present, ethereal female back-up “ooh’s” run throughout the song, which feels warm, with its well-layered, full-bodied instrumentation and effortless, repetitive lyrics. The track is just perfect for sunbathing beneath the California skies.
As “Waterfall” ends, the band immediately slams right into the next track, “Until the End of Time,” with barely a second of breathing room. Though the rest of the album is good, catchy, consistent and confident in its distinct style, the album becomes a bit redundant, making certain tracks a bit indistinguishable from one another.
“I’m a Thief,” the fantastic final track, is the one exception though, as it takes on a completely different feel than the rest of the album. With a much slower pace, the song features elegant, swelling strings throughout and a wall-of-sound fullness. Overall, this is quite an excellent, worthwhile album for those that love fuzzed-out psych with a laid back, California flair.