PACIFIC OCEAN BLUES
From a shoreline sunset on the album cover to the casual way it was conceived, natural is a key description for the Gigolo Aunts' fifth full-length. Formed in the mid-'80s, these power-popsters took their name from a Syd Barrett tune and toiled around New England for nearly a decade as a steady following built overseas. Their big American breakthrough was supposed to be 1994's Posies-styled Flippin' Out; of course, it didn't happen. Ditto for the textured indie pop of 1999's Minor Chords and Major Themes. Band members instead became sought-after session men, and the Aunts faded away until singer/guitarist Dave Gibbs and bassist Steve Hurley reconnected, and everyone else followed suit. Pacific Ocean Blues is the sublimely satisfying result. Crunchy rocker "Hello" quickly jump-starts the set, then segues into the equally brilliant Teenage Fanclub-meets-Superdrag blast "Mr. Tomorrow." Bright, horn-inflected rave-up "Let Go" boasts soaring harmonies and searing guitar solos, easily the Aunts' most infectious tune to date. Several lush acoustic ballads (think Elliott Smith) provide breathing room. "Maybe the Change Will Do Us Good" ends with crashing wave sounds (a SoCal nod), then they throw their perfect pop back in during the "Long Scattered Daydream" closer, which could've been an outtake from Matthew Sweet's 100% Fun. The last thing you hear is laughter and a self-deprecating voice muttering, "You guys suck." Hardly.
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