Just a little more than a year separated Wayne Interest, the third album from Long Beach, California's Tijuana Panthers, and its follow-up, 2015's Poster, and as unlikely as it may sound, you can hear genuine growth in this band during the 14 months between the two records. The lo-fi production that helped to give Wayne Interest its retro sound has been traded in for a more precise approach, with noticeably greater clarity in the engineering, a smaller amount of room echo, and vocals that rise above the instruments most of the time (though the higher fidelity also reveals the clunky tone of Daniel Michicoff's bass when it rises to the front of the mix). Also, while this band was peddling a ménage of surf music and garage rock on their previous albums, Poster boasts a stronger attack that recalls the straightforward assault of old-school punk rock, and guitarist Chad Wachtel sounds forceful and confident on Poster, though he's still making fine use of the reverb tank and twangy picking that were his friends on their earlier albums, with the surf influences still clearly present if less prominent. And the lyrics have more bite on Poster; the message to a nemesis on "Trujillo," the sketch of youthful boredom on "Front Window Down," and the jaded ennui of "I Hate Saturday Nights" are smarter and more incisive than what one may have expected from Tijuana Panthers, and add to the feel that this band is growing past updated surf rock into something more eclectic and ambitious. If Poster suggests Tijuana Panthers have gained a lot of stylistic ambition in a year, it's daunting to imagine how far they'll have gone in 2020 if they keep growing at this rate.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming