Stratford 4 Love & Distortion

If ever a band were trying hard to sound as if they came from the UK in the early ’90s, it would be San Francisco’s the Stratford 4. They take pride in keeping the great shoegazing revival alive by traversing the same ground as Ride and Slowdive. But most importantly, they do it incredibly well and that is what makes it hard to simply dismiss them. Their 2002 debut The Revolt Against Tired Noises gave a very good idea of what to expect from the band, and their second album Love & Distortion continues that journey. It starts off with the lazy vocals and fuzzy guitars of "Where The Ocean Meets The Eye” and short of adding some lovely harmonies on some tracks, that’s what you can expect on the other ten songs. If there’s one thing that lessens the appeal of Love & Distortion, it is the absolute lack of ambition that the band have shown. There’s nothing wrong with the album as such, but any of the songs on it could have quite easily come from its predecessor. They haven’t really progressed musically at all, preferring to tread water and do nothing but gaze at their shoes. And while that might be fine on their sophomore effort, they are going to have to find some new tricks in time for their third album. (Jetset)