In a musical climate that praises and discards new bands according to the shrinking length of a press cycle, The Fresh & Onlys are steadfast and consistent. Led by pop craftsman Tim Cohen, the San Francisco band doesn’t pander to trends, and on Soothsayer, the follow-up EP to last year’s Long Slow Dance, it presents five surefire pop songs and one experimental track.
Light percussion trots beneath Cohen’s rich vocals on the title track until guitarist Wymond Miles rings out a hazy chord with shimmering notes in its wake. Guitar leads pirouette through the up-tempo outro as Cohen’s coos mingle with a lush bed of cymbal and blissful keyboard sustain. “Drugs” is a punchy new wave number that sticks out amid the band’s restrained pop style: It trades a Cars-like chorus for a foot-stomping verse not dissimilar to the glam-washed punk on the debut album of late Seventies act The Only Ones (a band that might’ve inspired The Fresh & Onlys’ own moniker.)
Apparently The Fresh & Onlys used this EP as a way to release tracks they considered thematically unsuited for Long Slow Dance, but it still contains hits like “Soothsayer” and “Deluge of War.” And one can imagine the excellent but uncharacteristic track “Drugs” becoming a cult favorite among fans. Soothsayer isn’t a dump for subpar material that didn’t make the full-length; it’s just another high point in the Fresh & Onlys’ impeccable repertoire. (Mexican Summer)