Review: Radar Brothers on reliable ground in 'Eight'

On the Radar Brothers' eighth album the long-running Los Angeles guitar rock group founded by Jim Putnam continues its gradual, if at times glacially-paced, expansion. Twenty years after its formation, the band has thickened its sound with more dynamic layers and arrangements, even as the voice at the center remains stubbornly consistent.

Since their inception, the Radar Brothers have continually worked on creating the perfect languid guitar rock song, as if orbiting an ideal that they never quite seem to touch. The band does one thing really well, and whether one of the 11 songs on "Eight" hits the sweet spot in your heart will depend on mood, weather, planetary alignment or some combination thereof. None of these tracks are clunkers, but none will redefine guitar rock, either.

Ever patient with its pace, "Eight" seldom shocks with grand gestures or ridiculous hooks. Rather, at their best — the pedal-steel warble of "Couch," the crisp guitar layers of "House of Mirrors" and the oblong bass line that turns the song awkward or the closing gem "Horse Down" — Putnam and company increase the heat gradually, adding washes of drama until structures nearly buckle under the combined weight.

Radar Brothers


(Merge Records)

Three stars (out of four)

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