Basking in the San Francisco limelight, rockers The Fresh & Onlys have continued to release music at a healthy rate. Their last LP, 2010’s Play it Strange, introduced to many the scene out of the bay with a poised dosage of garage rock in play. Two years later, The Fresh & Onlys venture into a much softer landscape – something where the atmosphere still plays a difference – but the emphasis is on the building environment around it all. The leader on their newest offering, Long Slow Dream, “20 Days and 20 Nights,” pieces together a channeled grip of light tendencies and it’s quite noticeable just how much the shift has frayed from the rock light into the pop undercurrent. Firmly grounded, it’s definitely the band’s shining moment so far.
A song like “Dream Girls” floats along a dreamy surrounding with longing lyrics about suffering heartbreak and mallet instruments that bask in an atmospheric blend of notes. The sound is both an homage to vintage, glimmering 80s rock of bands like The Smiths and Echo & the Bunnymen; these aren’t the same kind of tones by other garage rockers of the west coast. Instead, The Fresh & Onlys provide an escape into blissful tendencies that celebrate the wistful emotions of stunning ethereal-like overtones. The pure exception is on perhaps the penultimate song: the gradual build-up of sounds on “Foolish Person” crafts a towering guitar and menacing drums that fashion a poignant stirring. The longest song by a lot, its rush of blood to the head is intrepidly brisk – it’s easily the tour de force inside of this subtle dance.
But while these songs appear as rooted to the 80s as the very artists and bands that created the music back then, Long Slow Dance is a compelling tale of natural tendencies. Like a modern-day The Shins if you will, but honoring that jittery motion from the aforementioned decade, “Yes or No” shakes and rattles with propulsive energy. The Fresh & Onlys may sound like a few decades left behind but their strands of fantastic energy are the game-changer here. On “Presence of Mind” they sound most like a band from the opposite coast, Real Estate, with noodling guitars and more of that pensive, longing feel. The songs on here are utterly infectious, with and uncanny skill adept at succeeding with tremendous highs. The band noted a strong devotion to clarity, admitting they spent the most time recording than any other previous album – the reflective feel of every song, including the aforesaid, is an amazing achievement.
The album’s clear motives aren’t difficult to decipher: a lingering amount of kindred sentiments and flourishing sounds. This kind of LSD, if you will, is certainly one that is best supported equally heady as the band doesn’t shy away from the dreamy soundscapes they’ve mastered on Long Slow Dance. It’s undoubtedly an achievement in pure music terms and without hesitation, one of the best pure albums of the year. For The Fresh & Onlys being part of a particular movement bears no reckoning on their aim and this latest affair is a splendid winner because of it. Enriched by the sounds of the past and further engrossing because of the undeniable craft in superb musicianship, Long Slow Dance is a downright joy to listen to.