Lab Partners - Review for Wicked Branches:
On their second full-length, Dayton, Ohio's Lab Partners have upped the "rock" in their appealing brand of neo-space rock. While still absorbing some of the influence of early nineties U.K. dream-pop, Wicked Branches shows the band forging their own unique sound, with more power and clarity. Mike Volk and Mike Smith's (ex-Honeyburn) intertwining, chiming guitars impress throughout the record. Amy Smith's held organ and keyboard chords create yet another layer on the sonic dreamcake, suggesting the former role of Kate Radley in the Spiritualized of the nineties, but since the band lacks a bassist, she covers much of the low end too. Some of the punchy dynamics of Swervedriver can be heard on "Blood Moon," which intriguingly superimposes a 3/4 feel over a 4/4 meter in parts. With more energy and drive, and Mike Smith's warm vocals a little higher in the mix than on their debut, Wicked Branches could be called post-shoegazer rock. "Now" is a hooky, punchy number spurred by insistent drums, while "It's How You Feel" is powerful yet dreamy, with sustained, languid harmonies. The creative use of tremolo bar on the guitar creates a Kevin Shields-like feeling of sensory disorientation. Having toured with The Warlocks and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Lab Partners reveal themselves to be worthy peers of these better-known spacey bands, clearly deserving wider attention.