The Waylons – S/T

New York’s The Waylons’ self-titled full-length debut is a solid rock/pop album with country charm. While not as sugary as some Tullycraft or early Of Montreal, The Waylons do play Splenda hooks and have playful sing-alongs a plenty. One of the real successes of this album is the production, which gives these seemingly effortlessly crafted songs extra character. The guitars are up front with a cabinet sound, and, as a result, The Waylons sound more like a real band than a pop machine. Furthermore, the mix does the band a favor because the vocals ring harmlessly flat at times. This full-length debut is, overall, an accessible and very enjoyable listen.

Despite the band’s claim it is “not a country band,” there are some young cowboys in there somewhere. It’s a shame they don’t indulge themselves more, because their countrified moments are some of their best. Examples include the sadly devoted “Day for Night” and the at-ends ballad “Take Me Out.” A charming country-tinge appears even in tracks with chord structures much removed from the oft-vilified genre, as in two of the best tracks, the love-sick “Twenty-six” and the near-perfect “Stunning.”

In all, only two or three songs, such as opener “Front Porch,” will be skipped, and that’s a good batting average for a 14-song album. That said, The Waylons do not offer much in the way of originality. When listened to in its entirety, the album plays like a checklist of tried-and-true pop hooks. But The Waylons somehow make it new again. The simplicity of form, variety of tempos, and sincere performances make for good times.