Peanut butter cookies should taste at least a little like peanut butter. A dear friend of mine recently devoted an afternoon to schooling me on the arts of preparing peanut butter cookies from scratch. I watched her in awe, keeping a close eye on what was tossed into the batter, and how much of each thing went in. Days after she left, I ran out of cookies and took it upon myself to repeat the process. I added flour and eggs to my batter. Then I added some brown sugar. I mixed in some butter, and a bunch of peanut butter, and tasted the mix. It needed more ingredients, something else. So I added some more flour. Then I added some more butter. Then I added some more brown sugar. I baked. The final results yielded a mess that tasted like a whole bunch of things other than peanut butter. I tasted very little peanut butter in my peanut butter cookies. In a similar turn of events, the new Longwave album has very little Longwave to offer.
At first listen, The Strangest Things, Longwave’s second full length and first on a major, comes off as a photo album of what happened musically in England in the 1990s. Photo albums, while very useful in nature, merely represent what has come and gone. William Butler Yeats adhered to the theorem that an artist cannot merely represent Nature; nay he or she must add something to it. After about four years or so, one would think that Longwave might have a little more of their own to add.
"Wake me when it’s over" seems like it may go on a bit too long, even though it clocks in at just over four minutes. It’s a string of U2-like delayed guitar, and a drum rhythm that barely ever changes. This format seems to have been applied throughout the entire work, with the exception of only a few tracks. I hear several distinct influences here, most stem from, yes, the ’90s Brit stuff, but there’s also an element of the bland American radio that occurred roundabout the same time.
The album is not without its shining moments, however, which is why it’s so disappointing. One takes in the handful of great songs here, and the listener can only wonder why these moments couldn’t be more frequent on The Strangest Things. Melodically rich and interesting guitar work is featured on "Pool Song," as well as exciting drums and choruses on "All Sewn Up." If Longwave were to expand on their otherworldly hints of pleasant psychedelia as heard on "Can’t Feel a Thing" and their guitar effect freakouts, there would be a lot more to talk about here. Unfortunately, Longwave has not yet fully offered an album’s worth of what they’re probably capable of.