California Wives

Art History

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Not that they're actually from said state, of course, but California Wives are very much the descendants of a certain kind of Chicago band, namely the new wave/post-punk/shoegaze worshipers that summed up everything that wasn't metal and classic rock about the Smashing Pumpkins, in this case to their huge credit; Art History is the kind of derivative debut album that's a treat worth enjoying rather than a tedious collection of spot-the-influences. If anything, the quartet at points calls to mind the pioneering Midwesterners For Against when it comes to going big and bold, with "Los Angeles" -- not an X cover -- being a prime example, and "Tokyo" and the slow and stately "The New Process" not far behind. Like For Against, California Wives also find beauty in a particular kind of restraint that derives from mid-'80s New Order if anything, making songs like "Blood Red Youth" and the chiming skip of "Purple" also worth treasuring. If still very much finding their feet, California Wives nonetheless have a very good thing going that could really set them apart with whatever they go for next.

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