Following a move from Oakland to LA, Love Axe returns with a new album brimming with a slideshow of pop-edged indie rock that's far from workmanlike. Aided and abetted by the composer's ear of songwriter Chris Hatfield, their sophomore album is a widescreen affair. The songs on South Dakota flip through energetic piano-bashers, troubadour tuned whiskey odes, outsized guitar pop and country slung simmerers, feeling very much like a product of immersion in studio heavy indie pop albums of the 90's / 00's. Full of meticulous craftsmanship, there's a sense that South Dakota exists in a larger environment than it was born in, ready for a stage on inception. This is in large part due to the crisp arrangements that hearken back to a classically crafted pop sound, drawing a line from Spoon to Sloan, Beulah and Super Furry Animals to Fountains of Wayne. Its major label production on an indie budget, that's virtually void of trend worship and hype. In its place, the band treads on earnestness, swooning dynamics and crack songcraft. The guitars crunch in all the right places, the harmonies kick in quick, raising the hair on the back of your neck and the hooks stick in your brain for days; couldn't ask for very much more.
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