By JENNIFER KELLY
The first 30 seconds of Alone with a Friend are worth the ticket price all by themselves, the opener “Time’s Still (For No One Yet)” beginning with a beautiful chiming 1968-or-so guitar intro, rambunctious Moon-all-over-the-kit drums, and a fuzz guitar solo that winds up and through and around this psychedelic gem. The vocals don’t hurt either, their dreamy, minor-key harmonies breezing in and swelling upwards, drifting in hazy half-happy, half-melancholy currents.
Later, the mix turns funkier, with rubbery bass lines and fat keyboard riffs, but a psychedelic shimmer persists even in the synth-poppier outings (“While Everyone Was Waiting”). “Always Fade” tilts baroque pop-ward with its glistening guitar lines and rattling, spine-shaking drums that put an exclamation mark under the dreamiest melodies.
Occasionally, this four-piece drifts a little further into sugary pop than I’d prefer, witness the smarmy swoon of “Mas Doper (Love Me Probably)”’s chorus, or the 1970s jangle that leads off “After Tonight,” which wants to say West Coast Pop Experiment, but ends up hinting “Sister Golden Hair.” “She Lives in My House” hitches a vortex of guitar vamp to squiggly harpsichord trills, but let’s the dirt-crusted guitar propulsion win. Good move. But the wispy, wistful “Always All the Time” is a little too feathery delicate for its own good, slipping away on high indistinct vocals without much to tether it to earth.
But for all that Alone with a Friend is completely enjoyable in a mildly lulling kind of way, a summer record in the best blaring-out-the-windows-on-the-way-to-the-beach tradition.
DOWNLOAD: “Time’s Still (For No One Yet)” “She Lives in My House”