File this release under "Better Late Than Never." Psych-shoegaze alchemists Troubadour Dali have gigged around town, gone through several lineup changes and now have finally released their long-awaited debut. (The self-titled disc also serves as the first release on Euclid Records' new label.) It was worth the wait: The band takes the best bits of classic rock and pop and feeds them through phasers, tape-echo machines and spring reverb units, creating a dense, swirling sound which never dulls the sharpness of the hooks.
Like the Jesus & Mary Chain's Stoned & Dethroned, this disc proves that it's possible to write smart, layered, shoegaze songs which can still inspire sing-alongs, as on the sun-streaked love song "Always." At its best, Troubadour Dali creates thick slurries of reverberating, heady psychedelia and immediately cuts through it with piercing harmonics and razor-wire guitars. The supercharged "We Are the Sun" absolutely nails this dynamic: Boy-girl vocals sing in heavenly unison, while a pinging, ringing guitar line sets a repetitious border for thick sheets of fuzz.
In other places, the album is lovably anachronistic. The band places fifteen minutes of silence after "We are the Sun," right before a ten-minute bonus track full of sitar drones, vocal chants and scattershot percussion. In the digital age, that much dead air is a waste of hard drive space, but it offers a clue to the band's reverence for the take-it-as-a-whole album format. That's not to say that every track is a winner; there's clearly a formula at work here, which creates monotony over the course of an entire record. But on Troubadour Dali, the band has staked an admirable middle ground between artful guitar sonics and direct pop songwriting.
Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, Missouri, 63130. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.