At first listen, the Towels sound like what might happen if a few guys who were into '70s classic rock happened to hear a Sebadoh or Guided by Voices album and figured, "Hey, we can do that!" A Company of Splendid Artists doesn't necessarily sound purposefully lo-fi, but it sure sounds homemade, with a genially low-tech sound accented by low-budget keyboards and a slightly clanky drum machine that marks this as a true D.I.Y. effort. Musically speaking, the band's audible reference points hardly sound like hipster fodder; the vocals on "The Step" are pure Hunky Dory-era Bowie, the anti-cop rant "Protect and Serve" bears a certain melodic resemblance to Pat Benatar's "You Better Run" (the vocals, however, suggest the influence of Randy Bachman), and "Mercury" could pass for Traffic in dim light. The results are probably just a shade too eccentric for fans of the old stuff, while contemporary indie rockers probably wouldn't know what to make of such a non-ironic embrace of the dawn of the Stoner Era. A Company of Splendid Artists suggests the Towels are stuck somewhere between two decades, and it's hard to say which direction they should turn; the material is well-crafted and these guys are not without talent, but ultimately this album sounds like the work of men without a musical country other than the one they've created -- where, it should be noted, they seem to feel very much at home.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming