The Leslies released two fantastic albums of urgent but pretty guitar-driven indie pop in the mid-'90s, but then fell into an agonizingly long limbo as their record label self-destructed. Their first release since 1997's Of Today-For Today, Dear Friend sounds like a perfectly logical follow-up, as if no time at all had passed. The title track kicks things off with a bang, all beseeching, top-of-range vocals and buzzing guitar riffs, but the rest of the album skips through a variety of styles, with the C-86-styled "Take a Look" featuring an uncredited Annika Lundback from labelmates Waltz For Debbie (who here sounds uncharacteristically like Heavenly's Amelia Fletcher) alongside singer Tony Ivarsson, and "Every Now and Then" showing guitarist Martin Berndtsson in a rather-'80s jangle pop mood. The unexpected highlight, however, is the closing "The Girl at Collins Avenue," which sets the Leslies' usual bouncy pop stylings to a rinky-dink vintage synth sound, an odd but successful pairing.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason