San Fransisco’s Philistines formed out of a sort of necessary nostalgia. After prepping a new album with his old band the Ex-Boyfriends, Colin Daly’s bandmate moved, leaving him with a set of song sketches but no way to realize them. That’s when he called his twin brother Chris (formerly of Sweep the Leg Johnny), and the two decided to assemble a band and finish the songs together, hearkening back to the days when they shared a four-track recorder. As such, the debut LP Therewolves! works best when it reconnects with Pavement and similar college rock landmarks.
Philistines strengths are summed in “Keep It Simple”, a sort of guide to the pogo-friendly, nostalgic rock that they emulate so well. The chorus reminding to “keep it simple/ simple, stupid” bounces along over squared drum smacks and churning guitar. And, as the energy builds, it’s entirely believable that they’ll be “suddenly someone” even “a hit with the kids.” Similarly, “Woo Hoo Hoo” mimics the “Cut Your Hair” blueprint of falsetto backing vocals, a lolling lead, and an anthemic hook, a genus of indie rock boiled to its essentials.
The reeling, haunted guitar thundercloud of “Nightmare” closes the brief set, aiming for goth dramatic cache, scattered, combative discussion buried somewhere in the back of the mix. The piano-driven “Sadly Temporary” similarly leans too far away from the propulsive core they do so well, landing with a gentle thud. Despite the occasional sag, a majority of the album finds the nostalgic pocket it needs. It might not beat wearing the grooves on Slanted and Enchanted a little more, but it’s not ashamed to try.
Essential Tracks: “Keep It Simple”, “Woo Hoo Hoo”