On first blush, this album seems like just another retro throwback -- Beach Boys sunny pop, early '70s Laurel Canyon singer/songwriter navel gazing, the early '00s indie pop goodness of Beulah and The Shins, with occasional nods to '90s slacker guitar heroes Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. But the minute you start to play "spot the influence," lead singer/songwriter Christopher Owens has already moved on. And it misses the point. Owens is the kind of guy who has absorbed the DNA of 50 years of rock music. You can separate the strands if you like, but the reality is that he does what great songwriters always do -- rearrange those strands into something unique and compelling.
It's the sweetness that ultimately wins me over, and makes me smile. This is a guy who writes not one, but two songs about his mother. It sounds as if he likes her. And "Forgiveness" gets it exactly right. I have no idea what this guy believes or does not believe. But it's refreshing to encounter someone who holds out the notion that bitterness, cynicism, and recrimination are not the answers. What a lovely second album.