California Wives Art History

California WivesArt History
Combining elements of shoegaze, dream pop and even '90s emo, Chicago, IL's California Wives create a sound that's so familiar, you'll swear you'd heard these 11 tracks before. The quartet have been slowly building steam after scoring some favourable online press for 2010's Affair EP and a few plum opening slots. Half the tracks on Art History have appeared elsewhere, but the group re-recorded them, adding a clean sheen for a release that swings for the fences, even if it only manages to land somewhere deep in right field. The one-two punch of "Blood Red Youth" and "Tokyo" are hard to beat, but things quickly loose steam with "Marianne," whose nostalgic lyrical bent comes across as contrived, more concerned with evoking the past than being rooted in it. But the record picks up steam again in its final third, with "Twenty-Three" being a particular highlight. Art History's highs are substantial, but the album's weighed down by two or three weak selections. Still, this is a promising debut and a must-listen for fans of soaring, tuneful indie rock. (Vagrant)