Alcian Blue Alcian Blue

It might have taken five years, but Washington, DC’s Alcian Blue have finally managed to find a niche that suits them. While their earlier EPs were obviously influenced by the ’90s shoegazers like Slowdive and Swervedriver, their first album finds them taking a sideways step to add a welcome new dimension to their music. That doesn’t mean they’ve completely turned their back on their old sound — they’ve simply refined it in a most satisfying way. Alcian Blue, their debut full-length, sees the band turning back the clock even further than previously. With a gloomier sound that is reminiscent of Joy Division and the Cure (circa Pornography), it leans a lot more heavily on keyboards than they have in the past. In part, that might be due to some personnel changes in the band — the drummer left only to be replaced by a drum machine — but there are still enough waves of feedback to validate the earlier My Bloody Valentine comparisons. With their new loudness has come greater focus and, to be perfectly honest, better songs too. They don’t quite have the grade-A material for an entire album yet. There’s a bit of a lull near the middle where the songs lose their way, but it ends strongly and the band have shown enough growth to suggest that the best is probably yet to come. (Elephant Stone)