Last year was a cool year for bar bands, Kings Of Leon notwithstanding; then again if it’s not got a built-in runway they ain’t coming near it anyway. People like the Hold Steady and the Black Angels got a whole lotta love from a pretty diverse group of critics who initially couldn’t decide which word to overuse first, “tubesock” or “Michelob.” Well this here band is the Close, they’re from Atlanta , they play shaggy multi-era meat-rock and they’re coming to a saloon near you. Don’t worry about the detuned piano; they’ve got that. They’ve also got a smokin’ hot keyboardist who absolutely keeps the four guys in check, in fact all their faces are scratched out inside the album jacket and it’s skewed to make it look like Teresa did it—that’s her name, Teresa. She sings a little and a guy named Brooks (!) sings a lot and he sporadically sounds like a missing Gallagher brother, albeit less-sniveling and glimpsed through the brown light of a, wink, Michelob.
Power-pop is a term not to be trusted—anything sonically between Alice In Chains’ Dirt and Alice In Chains’ Jar Of Flies could be construed as power-pop as I understand it. Having said that, the Close are essentially power-pop mavens with enough grease under their nails to pass for roadhouse warriors. Having said that, Sun, Burn‘s opener “They Get Around” inexplicably works a persistent ride cymbal around an organ that sounds like Interpol’s “Next Exit” and I’m not sure how to react to that. There’s lots more organ on Sun, Burn, by the way, to sporadic effect. It’s nice and spooky on “They Get Around” and “My Boy Is Crazy,” unnerving almost everywhere else.
Mostly the Close sounds like a band that’s learned from its mistakes. Sometimes they do it in the space of a single song. “My Boy Is Crazy,” for instance, starts like a trip-hop misnomer before resetting itself thanks to Teresa’s pert vocal and some wrinkly piano ambience that nearly ditches the song in a doowop diner, which is preferable, in this case, for this band, to any sort of trip-hop trickery. They’re retro but not ironic, and they look and sound good with dirty hands, but not that dirty.