Come Again

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For their sophomore effort, Australia's Even cleans up and tones down their sound considerably to make one of the most overlooked and consistent rock & roll albums of the late '90s. The true feat of Even is that it is able to transcend most labels attached to it; it's too pop to be considered rock and too rock for the tag power pop. It will, however, appeal to fans of all of these genres. Come Again is undoubtedly steeped in the past; a song as understated and majestic as "Tell Me How" could've seemingly only come out of the mid-'60s, and the satisfying blues-rock of "Black Umbrella" distinctly pulls from the best parts of mid-'70s rock. But because Come Again is rooted in the past does not mean that it is derivative; too often a band wearing its influences on its sleeve is a band that is running out of ideas. Here, however, Even manages to cook up a heaping batch of understated, top-quality hooks (the same kind of hooks that made albums by '90s popsters the Jellyfish, the Posies, and Ice Cream Hands so good -- they're hooks you may not notice on the first listen but gain in stature with every play). To flesh out those hooks are expert musical performances and perfect production; Ashley Naylor's guitar skills are impressive, and he has the musicianship to carry the fuzz of the rocker "No Surprises" every bit as easily as the bluesy swagger of "Black Umbrella" or the gorgeous ring of "Tell Me How." There are not many actual rock bands that exhibited such skill in the late '90s -- only the similar-sounding British rock quartet Shed Seven comes close -- and that's why Come Again is such a gem.

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