San Francisco's Fresh and Onlys have been pumping out melancholy garage rock since 2008. On their fifth LP, they explore noisier tendencies: "Bells of Paonia," a wistful highlight, is laden with shoegaze-y distortion. Lead singer Tim Cohen's voice has a tunelessness that can distract from the band's music at times, but when it works, it's just right. "Ballerina" drifts in languid sentiment like a twinkling boat through a summer night, with Cohen's elegant lyrics on full display: "Labor forth, my moon-eyed one/For answers that elude us on the wrong side of night." House of Spirits isn't exactly urgent, but there's pleasure in its slowness.
From The Archives Issue 1211: June 19, 2014