England In 1819 Alma

A band name like England In 1819 brings with it certain expectations: gentle, pastoral, folk-tinged tunes that drift along. And while it doesn't quite deliver on that front, the moniker makes perfect sense after just a cursory listen to their sophomore effort, Alma. It turns out that brothers Andrew and Dan Callaway actually grew up in England, albeit more recently than 1819, and formed the band with their father after moving to the U.S. What they've managed to do is capture just the right type of melancholy, thanks to the combination of their classical training and unhappy personal lives ― probably. Their tastefully arranged, meticulous chamber-pop meanders along, although the downside is that it's a little too well constructed and dense for its own good. The tracks capture moods and moments like snapshots in a photo album, but it would be better if they group punctuated them with a more welcoming chorus or two. As it stands, the ostentatious drama of it all does work, but only in small doses. (Independent)