The Volebeats deliver another fresh dish of their cosmic American music with ?Like Her,? an album that delves deeply into the Voles mythology of loving, living and women. Thankfully, the lads still aren?t satisfied, and their pain is definitely our gain. Every second of ?Like Her? drips with the kind of emotional discontent and hard luck epiphanies that have come to define this most underrated of all Detroit bands. Their 7th album of bittersweet, roots-paisley pop easily rivals their best.
Much of this is because of songs like the masterful title track. ?Like Her? is the kind of mid tempo cautionary anthem the Volebeats were born to play. It opens in mid chorus with Jeff Oakes, lightly brushed in reverb, singing, ?No, I?m never gonna be like her. No, I?m not gonna say the words?? only to be joined by the rest of the band for what follows: stellar four part harmonies, over the most infectious mid 60s shuffle beat, singing words of perennial teen (read as, adult) angst, buoyed on Matthew Smith?s rousing electric leads, combining a perfect almost twang, almost surf, almost power pop signature into an elegant emotional rush.
Understatement has always been a large part of what makes the Voles? music so undeniably rich. That?s not to say they don?t rock. They do, and they do it with such infectious joy on stage that even the most cantankerous old sod will be transformed. All you have to do is see and hear a song like ?This Girl? live with its marching percussion and infectious melodies underlining words of burning desire; or the four part harmonies that anchor the power pop brilliance of ?Everytime? (co-written by alt country pinup, Ryan Adams). Jeff Oaks is one of the great overlooked balladeers of our time; his haunted baritone stretches out like a canopy over the earthy music below. Mid-tempo gems like the love-sick spell of ?In the Garden? and ?September Spell? are gentle pleas for affection that recall the Byrds and Big Star with their tender directness. The ghost of Gram Parsons can be heard swooning above the gorgeous lament of ?Touch Me One Time,? bolstered by Matthew Smith?s haunted guitar trills. With its laundry list of past loves and their defining qualities, it?s the weepiest tear-in-your beer number this side of a Willie Nelson?s ?Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.?
And mustn?t forget Smith?s tunes: ?Here it Comes Again? is a haunted blast of raga infused psych pop that owes more than a passing nod to ?5th Dimension? Byrds with its hypnotic string work. ?World?s Looking Lonely,? by Smith and Oakes, is a slice of joyous power pop transcendence about getting your dick knocked in the dirt, while Smith?s closer ?Time Travel? approaches his other band Outrageous Cherry?s droned out contemplative psych pop best, as reverb and gliding harmonies push forward a tale about the beauty/pain that comes with living life in the moment.
The Volebeats won?t kick-start any revolutions with ?Like Her.? They may not get much more than a few positive reviews in the so-called real world. These lads are operating squarely on hallowed ground here. The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers and especially mid 70s Flamin? Groovies epitomize the sound. The first two formulated the country rock sound; the latter celebrated the golden age of beat rock with no shame. The Voles combine some of the best elements of all these artists, yet somehow consistently maintain their own distinctive charm. Turn this one up loud. 8/10 -- Lee Jackson (27 June, 2006)