The Stevens

Good

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

The Stevens don't change their sound much on Good, their second album. The Melbourne quartet still come off like a holy blend of Guided by Voices melodic invention, Pavement slack, and Flying Nun scrap and that's fine. Their first album, A History of Hygiene, was like a hits collection with one sprightly, scruffy gem after another. Good is the same. Guitarist/vocalists Travis MacDonald and Alex MacFarlane wrote another batch of hooky, fun, and jumpy pop tunes that the band play with a light touch; bopping along with happy-go-lucky energy that makes it seem like being in the Stevens means having the time of your life. There's not much time for introspection or gloom when songs are as catchy as "Chancer," "Pulling All the Facts Together," or the very Clean-sounding "Furnace Town" are brought to the table. Hard to be bummed when you have classic melodies like the ones in "King Hit" or "Thirsty Eye" to get on tape. Tough to be lazy when the rhythms have as much get-up-and-go as the infectious "Cruiser" has. Yes, there are moments when the band dials it down somewhere just north of melancholy ("Purple and Grey") or comes through with a lovely, midtempo, dreamy pop song "(Keep Me Occupied"), but even these moments of introspection are basically sunny. The band straddle the line between lo-fi sloppiness and spiky punk energy that gives the songs a nice bit of forward momentum. Nothing drags and nothing lags; it's an album that's over in a flash even though there are 18 songs to get through. There are quite a few bands operating with the same basic sonic parameters as the Stevens, but there are few that do it as well. Even though Good is only the band's second album, it's their second album that falls just short of perfection and that's an impressive feat.

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