When the Fresh & Onlys released their 2010 LP, Play it Strange, the group were affectionately lumped in with the then-burgeoning San Francisco garage rock scene that included Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall and Sonny & the Sunsets. The Cali quartet immediately responded by distancing themselves from that scene, releasing a duo of LPs that instead embraced '80s jangle pop, college rock and even goth. For Wolf Lie Down, the band's latest, the Fresh & Onlys have curiously enlisted two Bay area garage rock locals, Kelley Stoltz and Greg Ashley, to produce.
But what makes LP number six so engrossing is that fact that they use their rekindled relationship with garage rock as an ingredient to move even further ahead musically, as nothing here (aside from the early '80s Misfits sound of the title track), truly sounds like it was recorded by this group of musicians.
It's always been an issue that Tim Cohen lacks dynamic vocal delivery, but on tracks like "Qualm of Innocence" and "Walking Blues," he uses his vocals as a mood piece instead, giving listeners a range of emotion through phrasing and melodic stretches. Wymond Miles' guitar seems to be in sync with this emotion, as the duo trade licks throughout the short eight-track album.
It's remarkable that the Fresh & Onlys have yet to make a disappointing album, but even more that they manage to keep the streak alive given their level of experimentation. (Sinderlyn)