Beachwood Sparks – The Tarnished Gold

LA's favourite country stars return after one hell of a hiatus.

Released: 26/06/2012 on Sub Pop

The latest release from the stable of indie's legendary label, Sub Pop, heralds the return of Beachwood Sparks. This second incarnation of the LA based country and western band reformed in 2008 and, aside from popping up on the soundtrack to Scott Pilgrim, have been taking their time getting this together. This does show - the album is well produced and very tidy, with some very nicely crafted songs. but for all of this, it just fails to ignite that... errrrrr... spark. Yeah, that's right, I went with that cliché. Sorry.

Sub Pop describe this as an album that "was meant to be played on a Sunday afternoon" and I fully agree with that. It would work fine as a background soundtrack to an afternoon with friends, sleeping off a night of excess while getting sunburnt, but that's where it ends for me I'm afraid. This album is essentially a musical lawn; well made, tidy, pleasant and a great backdrop to a summer BBQ with friends, but I sure as hell don't plan on it coming with me when I leave the house.

A good chunk of this album would be right at home driving a truck through a sun parched southern US state, and it's a testament to the band that they are able to evoke exactly the vibe they seem to be known for, but it's just not for me. There are tracks that get closer to claiming a spot on my iPod, 'Leave That Light On' owes a huge debt to Fleetwood Mac's 'Albatross' and there is a hint of Californian sun that could also be The Beach Boys lurking out back somewhere, but the vibe stays out in the country for the duration. I may sound like I am being a bit down on this album, but I'm not, it's a very good album, it's just not for me.

Fans of the genre will be very pleased with this and I certainly can see its appeal, but it's just not doing it for me while I sit in a rainy London staring out of the window. If someone wants to pay for me to take my camera along route 66, it may be a different story.

Turn On: Water From The Well

Turn Off: Talk about Lonesome

UnderSong Rating
6.5/10 ★★★★★★½☆☆☆