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The Cuts - From Here On Out

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Artist: The Cuts

Album: From Here On Out

Label: Birdman

Review date: Mar. 26, 2006

Three years ago, the Cuts' made modest waves with their under-the-radar, paisley underground-meets-Television triumph 2 Over 10. Their urgent rock-friendly anthems like "Electric Nite" and "The Early Bird (She Sings for You)" alternated with swooning, California-psyche pop songs ("Paradise,” "Dreams"), all lit from within by shimmering 1970s guitar and organ. Now they're back, this time with the production assistance of Outrageous Cherry's Matthew Smith, and the pop side seems to be pulling ahead. It's not exactly a rout – the first three songs are straight-up rockers, opener "Stop Asking" propelled by Brian May-ish guitar bravado, "I'm Not Down" reeling with organ-vibrating trills, and "Demons" erupting out of its music-box introduction into manic, distorted frenzy.

Still there's an unexpected Raspberry-colored gloss over the trippy pop ballad "Lemonade,” with its cascades of piano notes, string swells and swirling, billowing choruses. "She's In Love" is even more caressingly soft, like a lost Hollies ballad, with arabesques of curling melodies that pause unexpectedly, then move dreamily on. There's a lovely, glancing interplay between the murmured vocals and warm, ’60s radio pop guitars near the song's end that wafts it gently to a close. These songs seem, initially, formless and without weight, and only gradually reveal their indistinct charms. Cuts (no pun intended) like "(She's Got My) Shotgun" are more immediately appealing, since they spike the harmonized dreaminess with piano-plinked rhythms and surging electrified guitar solos. "One Last Hurrah," which closes, is another keeper. It's blue-eyed soul with a slow-paced stateliness and just a hint of Spooner Oldham in the keys (and a little Peter Frampton in the guitars, but we'll let that go).

As before, singer Andy Jordan's yelped, Verlaine-like vocals inject tension into all but the quietest cuts. The keyboard work – Michael Aaberg's organ flourishes and Daniel Aa's road-house piano – is strong and varied. There's a joyful chaos in the hard-rocking cuts, as textures of piano, guitar, bass and vocal vie for air space, and a thoughtful tranquility in the slower ones. None of these songs break any new ground. They'd all sound perfectly comfortable on the radio, circa 1975 or so. Still, it's good psyche pop, radiantly played and happy to the core, the kind of thing that makes summer afternoons so enjoyable.

By Jennifer Kelly

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