Many will find the broodingly hopeful sounds of L.A.'s (unfortunately named) NO to be a comforting salve in this confusing and hectic world. Their world-weary delivery and darkly textured music speaks of middle-aged disappointments and dreams/careers/relationships that didn't quite pan out. With their debut LP, El Prado, the band pick up where their 2011 EP Don't Worry, You'll Be Here Forever left off -- trying to pick up the pieces and earn a second chance with familiar-sounding, atmospheric, adult indie rock. Like a slightly more optimistic, west coast version of the National or a slightly less-creative version of Elbow, NO adopt the sort of muted romanticism gained by years of life experience. They sound like the band that's formed after its members' more ambitious first bands threw in the towel, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. El Prado is well-played and well-produced and if there is a lack of overall distinction, it's still as comforting as a Hudson Bay wool blanket. Subtly anthemic songs like "Last Chance" and "Hold On" are as reassuring as their titles suggest, with warmly delayed guitars and singer Bradley Hanan Carter's tuneful, rumbling voice intoning lines about lonely footsteps and winding roads that lead home. The overall sonic tone of El Prado is bottom-heavy, with richly produced drums and bass, deep, fuzzy guitar riffs, and low piano and synth textures throughout making for a moody atmosphere that ultimately helps power Carter's yearning lyrics. Fighting against the adversity of their own name, NO put a light on in the dark and turn in a reliable, if slightly unoriginal debut that goes down like mildly hopped, easy drinking craft brew.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger