The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love

H.O.M.E.S., Vol. 1

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There's no denying the sheer artiness of the Original Brothers and Sisters of Love, even if their second album, H.O.M.E.S., is positively streamlined and muscular compared to their endearingly precious debut, The Legende of Jeb Minor. Here, TOBASOL strengthen their sound, retaining their enticing ethereal feel, yet making it more direct with a clean, direct production and melodies that delve into tuneful psychedelia as often as they seem like forgotten folk songs. In retrospect, it's a logical outgrowth of their first album, yet the punchy, live production comes as a bit of a shock at first. While this sound isn't as dreamy as Jeb Minor, it's enhances the group's essential character. The Brothers and Sisters still don't sound like anybody else, as they blend the past and present, not just in their music, but in their very lyrics. If their debut hung suspended in time, this record has a clear sense of place -- namely, Michigan, particularly Michigan's past. Like a folky, American XTC, they reconstruct the past for the present, borrowing folk inflections for pop songs and vice versa. And make no mistake -- even with neo-folk tales like the stomping "Foreman of the Mill," there's a heavier pop element here, evidenced by both the skipping "Michigan and Trumbull," the dissonant-specked "Beautiful Night," even the lovely "Silent Apologies." Although H.O.M.E.S. is constructed like a classic record, flowing easily and filled with warm, little sonic details, TOBASOL have created a record that's nevertheless new. It's easy to get caught up in their thrill of discovery as they craft a delightfully eccentric record that consolidates their strengths while pushing into new territory.

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