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The Layaways, More Than Happy (Mystery Farm)
For those seeking respite in the thoughtful songwriting and pop sensibilities from days gone by, search no further than the Layaways new CD. Tapping into a diverse pool of musical influences, these 12 tracks evoke the spirit of early Beatles, R.E.M., and the best of the Cure. Simple yet sophisticated vocals are deftly woven with intricate instrumentals throughout, creating an enjoyable aural journey in the process. Founding Layaway David Harrell has succeeded in blending the perfect mix of '60s, '80s, and '90s rock, then stamping it with his band's distinctive signature. The album has an interesting elliptical structure: opening with a ringing guitar sequence that melts into a drone of backwards feedback, the tracks encompass 35 minutes of melodic pleasure. Songs like "Touch the Sky" and "Ocean Blue" hearken back to a time when lyrical content was something artists actually paid attention to, evidence that the Layaways are aware of -- and true -- to their musical lineage. The album concludes where it began, with backwards feedback flowing into the same chiming guitar riff. More Than Happy is the answer to much of the soulless mass marketed dreck that currently fills the airwaves, proof that some musicians still get it. A fine effort that is to be enjoyed by discerning fans looking for something a cut above.