After becoming what was perhaps the final and definitive college alternative rock band with 1990's Sunburn
, the Blake Babies took their best record and their erudite style and simply quit. In retrospect, it was probably a sensible decision, considering the grunge avalanche that was impending, but the band's demise seemed to determine the end of a heady and productive era of indie college rock as well. With its sharp-tongued, girlish vocals and its jaunty, upbeat musical disposition, Sunburn
summed up an entire decade of college rock as well as any record at the time. All three members of the band -- Freda Love Smith, John Strohm, and the more prolific Juliana Hatfield -- moved on musically in a host of projects. Hatfield brought a good chunk of the Blake Babies' following along with her, for a like-minded, high-profile, but uneven solo career. John Strohm released an impressive alt-country record called Caledonia
, and Smith had a slight career with the Mysteries of Life, a band that stayed pretty well beneath the radar. Now, a decade later, and allegedly spurred on by Smith, the Blake Babies have regrouped and released a follow-up to Sunburn
that sounds as though the decade in between never happened. God Bless the Blake Babies
gives no hint of the distance between it and its predecessor, firing off a collection of catchy if familiar tunes that, surprisingly, do not come off as retro or dated. God Bless
sounds like a band that is finally comfortable and really hitting its stride -- it's just that it took 10 years apart to pull it all together.