Longwave's second album and major-label debut, The Strangest Things,
has been steadily building a buzz since it was first released three months ago. It has its charms, thanks to lead guitarist Shannon Ferguson's icily atmospheric guitar playing and the wall of sound producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) erects around them. But it's too clean: Steve Schultz's dolefully poetic vocals sit on top of the music instead of being submerged in it and the various musical elements are clear and separate instead of blurry and distorted. Too bad, because songs like the epic, elegiac "Wake Me When It's Over" hold considerable promise.
Longwave formed about three years ago in New York and released its debut album, Endsongs, a year later. To their credit, they have little in common with garage-rock revivalists, though last year's career-making tour with the Strokes seems to have inspired them to add a handful of pithy power-pop tracks to their repertoire. No matter. Longwave is, as the name implies, a classic space-rock band whose dramatic compositions will, it's hoped, get a more spontaneous interpretation in concert.