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Album Review

The third full-length album from Ohio's Rainy Day Saints finds Dave Swanson and his partners still obsessed with the nexus between pop and psychedelia, though the harder edges that added texture to 2006's Diamond Star Highway have been buffed down a bit. While that album suggested the Rainy Day Saints had bent their influences in a way that paralleled the outlook of the paisley underground acts of the '80s, Reflected at once sounds a bit purer in its pursuit of a lysergic mindset and at odd moments suggests Swanson is starting to look past the end of the '60s into the '70s (particularly in the sax solos from Marianne Friend, which resemble David Bowie's work on his earlier LPs). Swanson's vision is more expansive on Reflected than ever before — the album clocks in at 76 minutes, and with the epic length comes a broader musical horizon, with Swanson overdubbing all manner of guitars, basses, keys, and percussion onto these numbers, and "The Hall of Mirrors," "Underwater Again," and several other numbers are clearly the sort of stuff you can do in a studio but not live (at least not practically), and that points to the album's Achilles heel — the craft is quite strong, but it's not as energetic or compelling as this group's earlier work. Swanson hasn't lost his knack for a melody, but he seems to be going for atmospherics rather than hooks here and that hurts him, as do the thick layers of overdubbing that rob the performances of the power of a unified band. Reflected ultimately sounds like a grand experiment that only partially succeeds, though Swanson's troubles are matters of creative choices and clearly not talent, leaving the door open for more interesting things on their next trip to the studio.

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