As Generationals, New Orleans' Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer have been
fine-tuning their breezy brand of guitar pop for almost half a decade.
Arriving with their immediately likable, horn-augmented 1960s swinger
"When They Fight, They Fight" back in 2009, the duo came across as band
with a simple, crowd-pleasing intention to make indie rock as hooky and
appealing as possible. Their third full-length, Heza, takes their knack
for writing bright, melodically-charged pop songs, but tones down the
boisterousness of its predecessor, their 2011 high-water mark,
That album grabbed you with its unabashed cheeriness; when that became
too obnoxious, the more emotionally complex lyrical themes acted as
something of a humanizing balm. Heza goes for understatement from the
off, with single "Spinoza", a tightly-wound bit of guitar rock that
succeeds because of its reluctance to overdo anything.
But the same reluctance means that much of the material on Heza blurs
together. "Kemal" teases at a tropical vibe but doesn't really commit;
"Extra Free Year" earns some extra mileage out of an alien synth
pattern, but in general feels flat.
As the album wears on, Generationals often feel like they are going
through the motions. While their formerly peppy mode could be
exhausting, it's difficult not to yearn for a bit more razzle-dazzle on
Heza. True, the album's careful production, inventive percussion, and
refreshing marriage of organic and electronic sounds hint at an
impressive confidence that's still very much a part of the pair's
personality. But they're still a competent, talented, charming band
instead of a truly memorable one.
-- 6.3/10 Pitchfork