With Chapter 2 in the ongoing adventures of indie rock's favorite "underwater utopian community," The Princeton Reverbs Colonial come of age with Ring the Pair-A-Bells. Having evolved into a powerhouse rock unit, bridging the gap between Elephant 6-ish psychedelic pop (with various members of the Athens pop community contributing their talents) and rising and falling emo drama, the Reverbs find a few more gears in their songwriting and considerably more intensity in their performance. Largely gone is the lo-fi fuzz pop of their debut, here replaced with a mix of brooding epics, stormy climaxes, and candy-colored anthems. More complex, but every bit as accessible as their previous recordings, the melodies are catchier, the harmonies are tighter, and the band dynamics more compelling, creating a set of songs that stand independent of the underlying narrative. Now inhabiting something more recognizable as their own sound, Paul Vittum sounds more confident as a vocalist, Drew St. Aubin emerges as a wonderfully fluid bassist (in addition to taking a few more turns on lead vocals), and Darren Cloutier harnesses his dark guitar outbursts, with the entire edifice resting upon Jim Wood's utterly powerful drumming. Throughout, the production is live and raw (having been engineered by the Olivia Tremor Control's Bill Doss), embracing the interlacing dissonance of hazy reverberations and warm acoustic textures in the masterful sequencing of songs. Taken as a concept album or simply an album of outstanding songs, the Princeton Reverbs Colonial have realized their first truly great album.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Fink