Fairburn Royals

From a Window Way Above

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From a Window Way Above, the Fairburn Royals' follow-up to their self-released debut, finds the Athens, GA, band polishing its sound to create an album of charming and driving power pop. But the Royals still maintain their lo-fi aesthetic, and From a Window is more Guided by Voices than mid-period R.E.M.. "Japan," their slightly surreal, international wanderlust tune, is as catchy as anything released in 2002. When the Fairburn Royals are slow and meditative, like on "Don't Force It" or the psychedelic "These Aren't Mistakes," things can drag -- From a Window doesn't have the Clientele or R.E.M.'s skill with daydreamy levity. But when the Royals rock -- and they do it pretty often -- they're unstoppable. Tracks like "The Cheer" have the fun drive and bite of Brendan Benson combined with a similar love for Help!-era Beatles; "Be My Punk Rock Friend" is a groovy, hilarious satire ("Can we not be friends because I have a job?," Matt Lisle asks); and "Necessities" has a dark, late-'60s momentum. This may not be a perfect record, but add a little more Rolling Stones to the mix and the Fairburn Royals might just hit their stride.

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