Angelic Swells

When one acquires a certain level of maturity, it comes with more than an expanding waistline, graying hair, and debt. Such as a perspective on cultural shifts. Take the Anglo-American fivesome (from Scotland and SoCal) Neverever. A good portion of its debut, Angelic Swells, sounds as if a small AM radio was receiving broadcasts from 1964-66. Its chief influences — Sixties girl groups, The Kinks, Motown, the angst-laden symphonic pop of Dusty Springfield and Gene Pitney — were once mainstream, and now seem almost as distant as country blues. The more "modern" aspects of Neverever's approach — explosively urgent and streamlined songs, terse, chiming, and clanging guitars — recall late-Seventies new wave combos Blondie, Echo & the Bunnymen, and the Plimsouls, and now those styles have become practically mainstream.

Angelic Swells feels like it's both contemporary and lost in time — the production is so lo-fi, dark, echoing, and monolithic it could've been recorded in Phil Spector's bathroom. Yet unlike some lo-fi efforts, Neverever doesn't go overboard. Jihae Meek's singing — at times a ringer for Debbie Harry circa the first three Blondie albums — poignantly conveys both tuff-gal swagger and adolescent melodrama, while her lyrics ring with here-and-now acuity.

The band delivers lean power-pop resolve with a touch of garage-y snarl. Like the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir and The Aislers Set, Neverever has found its very own Twilight Zone wherein musical eras dovetail and high drama is never far away. (Slumberland)


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