Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Stands - All Years Leaving - 2004

U.K. quartet the Stands traffic in gentle jangle pop rooted in the Byrds and the '60s West Coast sound, the mid-'60s Beatles, country Dylan, and in their missing and missed countrymen the La's. Their debut album, All Years Leaving, is coated in honey-sweet vocal harmonies, rollicking tempos, gently strummed guitars, and a general sense of easy nostalgia. Many, many bands have treaded this leaf-strewn, autumnal path and the Stands don't do much to distance themselves from the pack, nor do they stumble significantly. Middle of the packers then and that's not so bad. In fact, it is unfailingly pleasant. The tunes tend to blend together in a sepia-toned wave of gentle melancholia, but there are worse ways to spend 40 minutes. There are even a few that you will want to throw on mixtapes, like the dreamy opener, "I've Waited So Long"; "The Love You Give," which has a languid beat, slow-motion guitar plucking, and fine la-la-la backing vocals; and the album's crown jewel, "Here She Comes Again." It's definitely a cousin to the La's' "There She Goes," with a lovingly similar melody (and an almost direct lift from the Cars' "My Best Friend's Girl"), but it adds some Byrds-y 12-string and an emotion-packed bridge that does what a bridge should and jumps the song's intensity up a notch. It's the kind of song that you will want to listen to about five times in a row every time you hear it, the kind of song that would make you want this album even if the rest stunk. If they can come up with a couple more like it on their next record, they might take a giant step to the front of the pack. Until then, All Years Leaving is a fine, solid debut. -AMG

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