Despite their laconic air, Mapache certainly don’t waste any time between albums. After last year’s double disc outing, Roscoe’s Dream, they retreated to Panoramic House to bask in the beauty of the Northern California coastline. The environs found the band pushing beyond the bounds of their past catalog, fleshing out their sound with a reinvigorated spirit that pays heed to the acoustic duo origins but makes room for a more nuanced production. Touches of Canyon Country, and old debts to The Rowans, Jim Sullivan, and The Everlys still find their way into the record. This is as full as the band has ever sounded, working out quite a few of these with their live band on the road before letting it get massaged into place with producer Dan Horne at Panoramic.
With the main duo of Blasucci and Finch leaving their L.A. locale for some calmer climes in Ojai and Malibu, the record reflects a bit of the move. The pair each embrace their own personal passions. What didn’t get scooped up on Blasucci’s solo stint — a record that’s as pop as the songwriter has ever sounded — gets worked into a desert dustbowl of country and lonesome highway laments. At the heart, though, this album is about vibe. It’s packed with cool breezes, endless skies, Horne’s heart-stung steel, crushed velvet harmonies, last call piano pound, and first light strums. The last album sprawled a bit more than most in their repertoire, but on Swinging Stars, the band is as lean and limber as ever. The salt air stings the senses and the afternoon sun bakes the melancholy to a golden glow.
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