Two-Way Mirror (Recreation Ltd.)
On their 2009 debut album, Tentacles, Crystal Antlers unapologetically assaulted listeners with fuzzed-out surf-pop. The Long Beach band takes a step back on its second album, Two-Way Mirror. Compared to Tentacles, Two-Way Mirror is much easier to stomach—which is basically the root of its problems. The disc's initially charming and newfound melodic tendencies quickly lose their appeal. As each song shifts into the next, it becomes harder to distinguish this collection of reverb-heavy tracks from the work any number of other '60s throwback groups.
The first track, "Jules' Story," is promising, with Johnny Bell's muffled and distorted screams riding a well-developed organ/drums combo, but once Two-Way Mirror makes its way into the surprisingly delicate third song, "Summer Solstice," Bell is disappointingly subdued, and almost unrecognizable. Unfortunately, the album never really comes together—peppered between its welcome sparks of promise, like the garage rocker "By the Sawhill," are short bursts of unnecessary, dreamy psychedelic fillers that completely lack the Antlers' previous jumbled energy.
That's not to say that the band has completely gone off the deep end. Like countless others before them, they have overanalyzed and tweaked their original identity a little too much on their sophomore release. But hopefully Two-Way Mirror will accommodate the Crystal Antlers' awkward growth spurt.