Published Jan 27, 2016Seattle's Night Beats are vintage through and through. Their last album, 2013's Sonic Bloom, generated keen interest from psych and R&B fans alike for its authentic, fuzzy swagger and positioned them as a band with the potential for big things.
Their latest effort, Who Sold My Generation, might not be a mainstream breakout, but it sounds polished and mature in a way that few groups could reproduce. The album's intro, "Celebration #1," is a heady, droning, spoken word homage to Krautrock pioneers Can, while the stoned "Burn to Breath" shakes and rolls the listener in and out of consciousness. It's diverse — soulful pop song "Bad Love" evokes the sound of the Revels, while the vaguely political "No Cops" is a snappy, cruising outlaw's tune — but that same strength can be a weakness here, as other experiments, such as "Last Train to Jordan" and "Porque Mañana," lack any memorable moments to make them stick.
Though it's natural for psych rock bands to incorporate other sounds into theirs, it sometimes feels like Night Beats are masking dilettantism as experimentalism. Too often, they rely on imitation of their influences, rather than pushing the genre forward in a compelling way. There's a certain beauty in perfect imitation, but it doesn't make one hope any less that their next project delves into more assured territory. (Heavenly)