The Volebeats

Like Her

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It would seem that years of being in four or five bands at once has started to confuse Matthew Smith just a bit -- while Like Her is credited to the Volebeats, the results sound less like the sadly beautiful country-shaded music he crafted on Up North and Sky and the Ocean than the bright and dynamic psycedelicized pop of another of his many projects, Outrageous Cherry. Of course, Like Her lacks the deep echoes and noisy freak-outs of Outrageous Cherry's hallmark recordings, but for a change Smith has given the Volebeats their fair share of his gorgeous and infectious melodies, and the results seem to agree with the band, especially vocalist Jeff Oakes, who sounds strongly engaged and enthusiastic on these tracks. Smith's guitar work also seems to lean more towards a Byrds-esque jangle on many of Like Her's best songs, and even the sadder songs (such as "Can It Really Be?" and "September Spell") boast a lush undertow that's pure rainy-day perfection. The band's country influence does bubble to the surface on the litany of cool girls that is "Touch Me One Time" and "In the Garden"'s pledge of summertime love, but most of Like Her finds Smith and his cohorts blurring the lines between their pop and roots influences, and the results confirm this is a very good thing -- this is a great set of atmospheric and heartfelt pop music that satisfies on every level. Ryan Adams, another guy with a knack for a hook who also likes the Volebeats, co-wrote one song, " "Everytime," with Smith and Oakes.

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