by mary leary

Can these somewhat over-lauded mop-tops rise to the expectations attending this confidently titled sophomore full-length? Big Echo responds with the warm sound of a phonograph needle on worn vinyl and a progression echoing one of the Fab Four’s most swoon-inducing (“This Boy,” itself a Doo-wop structure) — “Excuses” is irresistibly embroidered pop. Engagingly bittersweet, “Promises” and “Cold War” add the minor-key melancholy of The Cardigans or Spoon. “Wet Cement” and “Pleasure Sighs” pleasantly expand to more than filler. And so it goes as the Benders utilize lessons from Oasis, the Cardigans, and the┬áBeach Boys, adding to their less-addictive riffs atmospheric beauty and divergent textures/codas. With Grizzly Bear producer Chris Taylor the Benders have fashioned a rather Grizzly confection that sometimes realizes the promise of their “Lovefool” cover — nevermind the band’s avoidance of the satire in the Cardigan’s original. What can you expect from unabashed romantics? This is half of a pop classic: for much of the other half my patience is bent as the band strains for the moody import more spontaneously exhaled by Blonde Redhead and Brian Wilson. If the affliction of being over-fuzzed/reverbed were a virus, I’d be in the ICU from “All Day Day Light;” the ponderous “Mason Jar” nearly has me snoring. If the Benders want to keep shoring up their franchise with new flavors, for the next outing I’d like to see Rivers Cuomo helming the no-(gratuitous)-frills ROCK pop release apparently no longer possible from Weezer.

Artist: The Morning Benders
Song: Excuses

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