Centered on the warm, highly resonant vocals of Rachael Price, Boston's Lake Street Dive began their career as an eclectic, adventurous quartet just as likely to play a twangy, Fleetwood Mac song or a Hall & Oates cover as any of their own soulful, jazz- and R&B-influenced originals. However, since their 2010 eponymous debut, Lake Street Dive, which also features guitarist/trumpeter Mike Olson, bassist Bridget Kearney, and drummer Mike Calabrese, have streamlined their approach, whittling their influences down to a handful of touchstones from guitar-soaked Southern rock to buoyant, dance-oriented old-school R&B. On the group's fifth full-length album and Nonesuch Records debut, 2016's Side Pony, they've honed their sound even further, zeroing in on a vintage-inspired, '60s soul aesthetic. Named after Kearney's hairstyle, and serving as an easy metaphor for the group's unpredictable creative choices, Side Pony was recorded in Nashville with producer Dave Cobb, who has previously worked with the likes of Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Shooter Jennings, and others. Purportedly, Cobb requested the band come to the sessions with song sketches, rather than fully composed pieces. Furthermore, he encouraged them to crate dive for vintage LPs from which to draw inspiration, a process that may have led the band to sample Major Lance's rare 1978 Motown-side "Love Pains" for their '70s disco-era soul-sounding track "Can't Stop." While there is plenty to admire about how closely Lake Street Dive hew to their vintage-sounding paradigm, they do take some interesting side-steps on their retro journey, jumping into the Beatles-meets-Janis Joplin-sounding "I Don't Care About You," and kicking out the jams on the fuzz-toned, psych-soul anthem "Hell Yeah." Ultimately, hooks abound on Side Pony and cuts like "Godawful Things," "Call Off Your Dogs," and "How Good It Feels," with their shimmery, echo-chamber, AM Radio vibe, stick in your head about as much as many of the classic sides they are attempting to match.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar