The Sems


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The Sems play perfectly executed lo-fi pop steeped in the heady tea of early-'90s shoegazer acts like Ride and My Bloody Valentine. Their debut record, Drift, a chilly landscape of swirling guitars and hushed Spiritualized-like vocals, begins with a track called "Harmless," a lush observation of city life that paints a picture of a lazy weekend afternoon flirting in and out of melancholy. "Stalker But Nice," with its sugary melody and detached vocals, sounds like the Jesus and Mary Chain fronted by Steven Kilbey from the Church -- this comparison is apt for much of the record -- and stands out among the sparse territory occupied by tunes like "Sunny Drive" and "Slumber." The head-bopping twins "Red Shift" and "What Was Said" showcase the band's pop leanings by establishing memorable melodies that are familiar, yet just strange enough to want to hear again. By the time "Plastic Boats" appears, the group has begun to channel the Red House Painters at their most dull -- which was a great deal of the time -- and the indie spark that threatened to turn into a blaze at the beginning of the record gets blown away by the cruel yet comforting winds of mediocrity. This is a good record.

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