Some people like sushi, and some people think the notion of eating raw fish is disgusting. Similarly, there are folks who like their music with the rough edges still in place, and others prefer something with more buff and shine. The Seratones' 2016 debut album, Get Gone, was a great, scrappy set of garage-oriented rock & roll with a skilled R&B belter on lead vocals, but the folks who dug the raucous sound of that LP may have a different reaction to their second full-length, 2019's Power. During the space between the two albums, guitarist Connor Davis left the band, they added Travis Stewart to replace him, and brought in a keyboard player, Tyran Coker, to join singer and guitarist AJ Haynes, bassist Adam Davis, and Jesse Gabriel on drums and percussion. The new and expanded Seratones are a considerably more polished and disciplined band on Power, and while the group's greatest asset, the voice of AJ Haynes, is still front and center, she shouts less and croons more this time out. There's no arguing that she's an outstanding vocalist, but with more pop, soul, and girl group influences audible in this set of songs, she has expanded her stylistic range, and in some respects, she's traded a greater precision for the excitement and immediacy of her earlier work. Between the '60s pop accents of "Fear," the propulsive rhythmic pop of "Heart Attack," the dancefloor-ready funk of "Gotta Get to Know Ya," and the sleek MTV-era surfaces of "Sad Boi," the songwriting, performances, and production on Power are savvy and professional in a way Get Gone was not. But Power doesn't rock like the debut, and it lacks some of the fun and abandon that made their first album such a treat. While Power is a solid and well-crafted album from a band with talent to spare, it differs in so many ways from Get Gone that it could very nearly pass for a different group, and personal taste more than anything else that will tell which Seratones you will prefer.
by Mark Deming