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The Fresh & Onlys, ‘Long Slow Dance’ – Album Review

Fresh & Onlys Long Slow Dance
Mexican Summer

The implication is, of course, drugs, but never mind the acronym: ‘Long Slow Dance,’ the title track on the fourth Fresh & Onlys album, isn’t about acid. Singer and guitarist Tim Cohen is messed up on another mind-altering substance, “true love,” and the way he describes it, this stuff is to be avoided. It’ll “drag you out across the yard and set fire to your home,” he insists, and yet there’s something in the music to suggest he’ll relapse again and again for the rest of his life.

Skipping wisely over the ‘70s, the Fresh & Onlys join together the two most unabashedly romantic eras in rock history: the psychedelic ‘60s and the gothy early ‘80s. If Echo & the Bunnymen were New Wave’s answer to the Doors, this San Francisco foursome solders another link onto the chain.

This marks something of a new approach for the Fresh & Onlys. Their previous efforts tended to be noisier affairs, and the band is at least tangentially tied to the Bay Area garage rock explosion of the last few years. With ‘Long Slow Dance,’ they turn the guitars down — often pairing bright electric leads with rolling acoustic chords — and push Cohen’s vocals higher into the mix. Xylophones show up in ‘Dream Girls’ — another song about the futility of love — and with a bit of cutting and pasting, the piano solo in opener ’20 Days and 20 Nights’ would fit snugly into the Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven.’

Cohen mostly stays Ian McCulloch cool, digging into the whole vampire-crooner thing, but on the penultimate ‘Foolish Person,’ as he vows to quit romance cold turkey, heartache takes its toll. After a lovely start, the song unravels into a frustrated drone of distortion and feedback — the angriest couple of minutes on the album.

He can protest all he wants, but he’s addicted, and he knows it. Before long, he’ll be back out under the killing moon, wooing the ladies and setting himself up for disappointment. He admits as much on ‘No Regard,’ addressing an old Frankie Lymon doo-wop question as if it’s not even worth asking: “Don’t ever wonder why fools fall in love.”
8 out of 10 rating

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