The Black Watch

Lime Green Girl

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Though I preferred the luscious, elegant textures and nicer, multi-instrument, baroque arrangements of The King of Good Intentions (which sounded lovingly like America's answer to the Go-Betweens), the Black Watch remain that most distinct of luxuries: extremely literate and cultivated, well-written and produced, rainforest-lush pop. On Lime Green Girl, the L.A. quartet returns to the prominent, more hearty ringing guitars they began with. They proffer an organic but accomplished guitar/bass/drums/violin concoction for the beautiful, spring-fresh tunes leader John Andrew Fredrick composes. This back-to-basics baring doesn't obfuscate his continued maturation as a tunesmith, bringing out the deftly poetic qualities of his lyrics. And he wields his voice as a confident instrument, cutting through the tolling peal of the guitars with real presence. Meanwhile his violinist/guitarist partner J'Anna Jacoby deftly fills in the few spaces left with her typically sonorous refinement. Typical is the hypnotic, throbbing "Seven Rollercoasters," a midtempo breezer that digs in like a houseguest you can't get rid of and eats all your Doritos. Superb! Then, on the last third, the band suddenly, surprisingly turns up the throttle considerably. With Jacoby at the vocal helm, the LP starts kicking with buzzing guitars and zipping, post-punk indie pop wallopers. This is a side Black Watch have only approximated before, closer to vintage Wire, 1988 My Bloody Valentine, the Last, or 100 Flowers' offspring than the Go-Be's or Smiths. Excellent. You wonder how many of these modestly impressive songs they need to release before the rest of the scene lavishes praise on them. And because they tack on seven tracks from their previous four LPs to aid the curious and unfamiliar, Lime Green Girl becomes even more imperative listening. Some people just know how to write. May they never break up. (P.O. Box 262, Kingston, NH 03848; roy@saltwaterrecords.com, www.saltwaterrecords.com)

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