Music » CD Reviews

The Damnwells

Air Stereo (Zoë/Rounder)

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Every love story has a soundtrack. Sometimes the songs are soaked in the sunshine of a day's new hope, and other times they roam the night, crooning the bittersweet balladry of a broken heart. Simply twist the dial on the Damnwells' Air Stereo and you can find 13 such fables of romance captured by one of Brooklyn's best alt-pop quartets. It's a soundtrack of ethereal and easy rock (reminiscent of radio-friendly writings of the Jayhawks or Wilco) pumped directly from singer-songwriter Alex Dezen's ragged boneyard of the heart.

Whether love shall overcome ("I've Got You") or forever bruise the soul ("Sell the Lie"), Dezen and the Damnwells tell each story with a hypnotic heartache. Leagues beyond their first full-length, Bastards of the Beat (gone are those freshman Goo Goo Dolls clichés), Air Stereo reveals the band's mature and polished pop aesthetic, sounding like Neil Finn backed by Crowded House; it's deftly refined by the production work of Jon Kaplan and Wes Kidd. From the forlorn Fleetwood Mac folk of "Golden Days" to the sexy guitar rock of "Accidental Man," the Damnwells reach deep inside to craft a pop album from the soul.

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