Bad Self Portraits

Lake Street Dive's initials may spell "LSD," but the Massachusetts-bred quartet are mostly tripping on Motown-meets-Muscle Shoals soul nostalgia, while frontwoman Rachael Price's big voice triggers flashbacks of Amy Winehouse and her forebears. These are all pluses on their breakout LP, which shows a band so in command of its style that it rarely feels like shtick – and even when it does, it's tight, fun and feisty. It helps that they write and arrange with sharp hooks, dramatic dropouts and sleight-of-hand grooves; see the shimmy-shaking "You Go Down Smooth," which rides Bridget Kearney's strutting bass line, and the hand-clap-powered gear-shifter "Seventeen," shot through with guitarist Mike Olson's nasty electric-blues riffs. It also helps that the instrument players double as Price's rafter-rattling backup choir. But their frontwoman's mighty pipes and palpable performance joy are what drive this train, making even a genre exercise like "Bobby Tanqueray" flare like magnesium – check out how Price growls her way back in after the break, which slips in some winking flashes of prog-rock guitar. The set could use more form-flipping touches like the latter. But as revivalism goes, this is vital stuff.

From The Archives Issue 1204: March 13, 2014
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