Singer/songwriter David Sandholm, leader of the Rollo Treadway, reveals a serious obsession with the psychedelic pop music of 1966-1967 on his band's self-titled debut album. Using plenty of keyboards (none of them synthesizers), including an electric harpsichord played by co-producer Michael Deming, the band creates elaborate arrangements to support Sandholm's breathy, double-tracked vocals, which often are accompanied by Beach Boys-style harmonies. Sandholm sounds like a musician who has memorized every note of the Small Faces' Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake and the Zombies' Odessey & Oracle, among other artifacts of his favorite era, and been inspired to create something similar four decades later. He is hardly the first artist so smitten, of course, and such acolytes fall into three broad categories: those who use their love of the psych-pop period to make truly original music of their own; those who are, in effect, auditioning to become members of Brian Wilson's backup band; and those who turn their taste toward affectionate parody (included in this last category are Utopia's Deface the Music and the works of the XTC spin-off group Dukes of Stratosphear). The Rollo Treadway falls somewhere in between the first and second categories. Sandholm hides some dark and imaginative lyrics in all the musical tricks, notably "Dear Mr. Doe," which is actually a kidnapper's note. (At such times, his band seems less reminiscent of its obvious forbears than of such later followers as the Beautiful South.) But he can also be nearly slavish in his re-creations of period styles and vocal patterns, such as in the a cappella sections that closely copy mid-'60s Beach Boys. Still, not just anyone can come up with complicated yet light confections such as this, and as Sandholm's fellow fans would say, the psych-pop era didn't last nearly long enough to exhaust all its musical possibilities.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann