A strong debut from the San Fransisco popsters.
It can be hard for bands with a small audience to make music that doesn't sound small. On their first album, Social Studies may not reach outside their niche to bend your mind, but they do the next best thing, occupying their chosen genre and given milieu with an easy familiarity and a comfortable sprawl. The band has been incubating in San Fransisco for the past few years and Wind Up Wooden Heart, their first full length, is a mix of indie pop that falls somewhere between the sobriety of the Decemberists and the ebullience of the New Pornographers. Peppered with delightful highlights -- sudden shifts in tone and velocity, hummable but discreet phrases, bold and thoughtful instrumental flourishes -- the album plays well from start to finish.