After a string of unbeatable singles the full length from San Francisco’s The Telephone Numbers arrives this week and its a sweet a collection of jangled gems as you’re likely to find this year. With Thomas Rubenstein at the helm, the band flirts with harmony-striped indie that touches the shores of Australia, the UK, and takes a tumble through a few college rock U.S. favorites on its way back around. The guitars move in phases — ringing out with the Byrdsian chime that would infect generation after generation one minute, and thickening in a pop porridge the next. On “Oh, Pretender,” the strums soften and a halo of fuzz rises over the haze. Early single “Pictures of Lee” lets in a late summer twang and a breeze of bells and a light lap of processed drums nip at “Curtains Close,” giving a bit of synth pop crossover with contemporaries like Business of Dreams, yet the pieces fall into place with a planned precision.
While Rubenstein has a love for Teenage Fanclub in his heart, and he’s quick to mention them, the band’s sounds voraciously chew on the hooks of The Church, The Lemonheads, and Felt to create a melancholy tapestry that flutters gently in the breeze. The West Coast is still in an embrace of indie pop and few are doing it with as much bittersweet alchemy as Rubenstein. With fellow SF luminary Glenn Donaldson in his corner, and chipping in a few instrumental inclusions, here the band enters into a race for the ultimate ache with his Reds, Pinks and Purples this year. The Ballad of Doug is one of those records that’s definitely going to find itself fetishized by pop collectors twenty years down the line, but why wait for the second coming when the first run is ready now.
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