Angelic Swells

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Neverever may be formed from pieces of some great Scottish pop bands (vocalist Jihae Meek was the singer for the Royal We, guitarist Wallace Meek played in Bricolage), but they’ve created a sound that owes very little to the Scot-pop lineage. Instead, the band’s debut album, Angelic Swells, is a charming batch of songs that draws influence from the sounds of '50s pop, '60s girl groups, classic doo wop, and angular post-punk, while telling tales of high-school romance, heartache, heartbreak, and the wild and wacky ways of the heart. It’s a combo of sound and words that, when sung by Jihae in her slightly unhinged, nearly over the top style, leads to a great deal of drama. The best of the songs, like the rock-bopping "Teardrop Tattoo," the insistent "Coconut Shampoo," and the wonderfully dramatic and sweet "Young Runaways," sound like the kind of brightly energetic songs that were built to mixtape highlight specifications, sure to boost the mood of any gathering. Indeed, most of the album has that feeling, though the pretty cover of the lovely Plimsouls ballad “Now,” the lilting slow dance of album opener "Here Is Always Somewhere Else,” and the Bow Wow Wow-inspired “Cowboys and Indians” show some welcome range and keep the album from becoming a blur of similar-sounding songs. Along those same lines, the bandmembers do themselves a huge favor on Angelic and set aside the lo-fi hiss of their early recordings and opt for a bigger, cleaner sound. It helps set them apart from the other bands treading similar boards, and more importantly, the cleanliness of sound allows the melodies, Meek's vocals, and the exceedingly well-played guitars room to breathe within the arrangements. Angelic Swells is the work of a band with a vision, a well-thought-out, well-executed plan that helps make the record loads of fun to listen to.

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