Evolution may be just a theory, but in the case of Brooklyn indie pop outfit Dinosaur Feathers, there's no dispute that over the course of their short career their sound has changed and grown, and it's a welcome next step. The band's 2010 debut Fantasy Memorial landed squarely in Vampire Weekend/Animal Collective territory with its African-influenced drumbeats, spacey samples, angular guitars, and breezy vocals, but with Whistle Tips they introduce fuzzier, more assertive guitars and a beefed-up rhythm section, making for a more insistent and memorable follow-up. This transition comes courtesy of Eli Crews' (tUnE-yArDs, WHY?, Beulah) production, and is due even more to the addition of Nick Brooks, the band's first live drummer, who quite simply makes the songs sound more alive. From quirky pop ("City Living") and spastic neo-psychedelia ("Your Move") to prog-tinged riffing ("SURPRISE!") and Sea and Cake-like indie rock-jazz fusion ("Certain Times"), Dinosaur Feathers draw from an eclectic, expanded musical palette that confidently, comfortably synthesizes with the tropical rhythms and buoyant hooks they're known for, begging to be added to summer road trip playlists. Opener "Young Bucks," with instantly bouncy guitars and Brian Wilson-worshiping harmonies, works as Whistle Tips' thesis statement and is supported by other standouts like "Untrue," a warm, jaunty Afro-pop-meets-new wave jam where Brooks' percussion workout shows off his range and demonstrates how invigorated the band sounds with him in it, and on "Beatcha," which begins as a midtempo, cosmic keyboard-driven track but swells to one of the album's most affecting choruses thanks to frontman Greg Sullo's commanding yet longing falsetto. Dinosaur Feathers fly past the sophomore slump with Whistle Tips, building on their strengths, making changes that play to their potential, and delivering a bright, fun record that reveals rewarding new layers with every spin.
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AllMusic Review by Chrysta Cherrie