Since the 2009 release of their debut album Tentacles, Crystal Antlers have learned to deal with change. After their newfound label Touch and Go was forced to downsize, the band had to search for a new home as well as a new organist. On their second album, Two-Way Mirror (Recreation Ltd.), the band sounds fully adjusted and ready to focus on their music—label and member drama be damned. Lead singer Jonny Bell’s scratchy voice, which sometimes cracks when he’s reaching for high notes, is well suited to the band’s garage rock sound. On “By the Sawkill,” you can almost feel the spit flying from his mouth as he enunciates the song’s title and strains his pipes. But garage rock isn’t the only ingredient in the band’s ambitious genre mash-up. Single “Summer Solstice” is a hazy, power-pop anthem that lives up to its title as a track perfect for a beach barbecue during the dog days. The aforementioned organ adds a touch of psychedelia to the mix on songs like “Always Afraid,” which could be an outtake from a grungier but happier incarnation of the Doors. And of course, a band from Long Beach, California can’t be faulted for exploring their surf rock side, a clear influence on the title track’s wipeout-style drums. Crystal Antlers have an interesting take on their favorite styles (and presumably a giant, genre-spanning record collection), so it’s nice to see them soldiering on after a tumultuous two years. Here’s hoping they keep pumping out their brand of punky, poppy, psychedelic jams.
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