This L.A.-based band (originally hailing from San Francisco) came along just when they were needed most. This self-produced major-label debut boldly plunders a reverb-and-white noise course previously trampled underfoot by long-gone British bands of the late '80s and early '90s (the Jesus & Mary Chain
, the Verve
, the Stone Roses
, etc.). It all sounds very British, on many levels, despite the fact that only one band member is an Englishman living in exile in the States. On some songs, however, the driving, over-amped guitars (often buzzing with "VU needles-in-red"-type feedback) and pounding drums have a swaggering primeval feel that rivals solid Detroit rock outfits, both old and new (including the Stooges
and the Go
, to name two). A few have dark, introspective lyrics, with subjects like impending death ("Rifles" at their heart, while others have a positive, more uplifting feel (cf. "Salvation"), but it's really the group's cohesive, solid production overall that captures a shoegazing, blustery rock vibe not heard for nearly a decade or more. Highlights abound on this astonishing disc, including the bitter opening salvo, "Love Burns," the diaphanous space pop of "Too Real," and the flurry of sawtooth guitar scree that is "Whatever Happened to My Rock n' Roll (Punk Song)," a track recalling the manic intensity of the Stooges
circa Fun House.