Welcome Sirs

[FatCat; 2007]

Styles: psychedelic rock, garage rock, indie rock
Others: The Lilys, Luna, The Stills

With the explosion of quirky-pop flavor offered in opening track “All Set,” Welcome announce themselves as an endearing garage-psych outfit with a soft spot for rocking. The rough starts at the beginning of the track signal that Sirs might be a casual affair, an invitation to sit in on a jam session. The interwoven double-guitar attack with just the right mix of understated distortion and tinny clean is jubilantly Polvo-esque. The frenetic drumming is more than enough to get heads bobbing, and the slightly ragged vocals belie a rough practice schedule to which these retro-rockers most likely adhere. All-in-all, it's a nearly perfect first foot to put forward.

The snag is that the promises made with “All Set” turn out to be bluffs. Sirs is brief, clocking in at just under the half-hour mark, and nowhere else in the remaining nine tracks is there anything as fully captivating. The closest may be “Natural Frost,” with its equally rambunctious guitar attack, but its pop sensibility is mostly lost with a noisier, albeit still pleasing, result. Another contender is “This Minute,” which lazily builds to not one, but two cathartic climaxes -- but again, there is no real hook.

Although a wholly pleasant listen, the remainder of Sirs seems too unassuming in comparison to the opener, and many of the songs are kept so short that they barely seem to start (e.g., “Bunky” and “With You With Me”). While saturated with promise, the album comes off at times as too tepid a step into the neo-psych arena, and at others, it’s simply too eager to subsume melody with noise. For my taste, I'd love for Welcome to forge a sound more squarely aimed at the mischievous and skewed garage pop with which they taunted me in the first place.

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