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Album review: Beachwood Sparks' 'The Tarnished Gold'

July 02, 2012|By Todd Martens
(Jim Goodrich / Sub Pop )

Earlier this summer, the Beach Boys released a new album and reestablished the band’s sunny aesthetic after 15 years, with melodies that emphasize patience and harmonies that can solve any of life’s problems.

The Beachwood Sparks claim a corner of this Southern California world, and though beloved on a much smaller scale, the cosmic country-pop outfit also returns after an extended hiatus with “The Tarnished Gold.”

“It’s time to stop pretending, those days are gone,” sings the band on album-opener “Forget the Song.” It’s a tone-setter, as these 13 songs waft between nostalgia and realism and unfold at a stroll’s pace. “Alone Together” isn’t so much about loneliness as it is about learning the comfort of solitude, complete with a woozy harmonica laced around strumming that owns a wind chime twinkle. Slide guitars here are a psychedelic instrument, and the laid-back pace, including the Spanish reverie “No Queremos Oro,” invoke a romanticized vision of a back-porch Laurel Canyon party.

The casual mood of the album, in fact, has the feel of walking into a late-night jam session. There’s a “this goes out to my good friend” dedication at the start of crooner “Sparks Fly Again,” a song right in the band’s Crosby, Stills & Nash/Poco wheelhouse, and elements of nature work their way into “Talk About Lonesome.” The whole of “Tarnished Gold” is an ode to voices growing older, in unison.

Beachwood Sparks
“The Tarnished Gold”
Sub Pop
Three stars (Out of four)

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— Todd Martens

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