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Pacific Ocean Fire
From The Station To Church We Are Under The Same Stars
Sorted Records

With 40 years of American ripoffs of The Beatles and The Stones, it's only fair a few British bands be allowed to emulate The Byrds and The Beach Boys. And in the case of Pacific Ocean Fire, imitation is very flattering. This Leicester, England, foursome must have been soaking in a lot of American music. They absorbed influences from Gram Parsons to Calexico and melded them into a new, original sound.

The group's first full-length to make it stateside is 44 minutes of beautiful, sun-soaked Americana. In fact, the only clue the lads aren't California natives is the "Made in England" label on the back cover.

The disc opens with "Summer Engines," a jangling pop riff about escape and dreams that would make Brian Wilson proud. With tambourines and rolling timpanis, it sounds like a lost track from some lo-fi Pet Sounds sessions. "Come on, come on, let's leave this city. I know a place where the sky's so pretty," sings Jon Bennett. It's an early highlight, but the album has no filler. Other noisy, giddy numbers don't quite match the opener, but have their own catchy, toe-tapping moments.

The slower tracks are beauties, too. "Honky Tonkin' Troubled Times" is a pretty country ballad that would seem tongue-in-cheek if it weren't so earnest. "Leaving Dusty Footprints" is another quiet acoustic ballad with slide guitar and a pretty duet by Anjy Hall. It recalls the 1970's heyday of the country duet. "I've been dreaming the same dream. I'm on a tightrope, seems folks are grabbing at my ankles in the snow," Bennett sings.

The band's upcoming North American tour should be a joy. Not only do we get a chance to see them live, but they get a chance to soak in more American influences.

- Steve Graham

Track listing:
1. Summer Engines
2. Death On Yr Birthday
3. Yr Name On A Tombstone Blues
4. Honky Tonkin' Troubled Times
5. Leaving Dusty Footprints
6. When The Preacher Snaps His Fingers
7. An Arrow For Yr Heart
8. Lightning Strikes The Plane
9. Ten Years Is A Long Time
10. Roadsigns
11. Driving At Night

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