Calling the Waxwings poppy is a little like calling the Pacific Ocean wet. It ain’t that they’re not loud and noisy and even gritty in moderation, but in these days of garage-rock revivals, it all just sounds savvy. The Detroit rockers have struck upon such a slick, streamlined, and unabashedly retro sound that every song sounds like a golden oldie you somehow missed, filled with so many hooks you’d think they’re hunting Peter Pan. You’ve heard these hooks before (reminiscent of the Stones in all their Satanic Majesty), but the ‘Wings are far from rusty on this follow-up to 2002’s Shadows of. The foursome’s simple but solid songwriting, hypnotic Beach Boy harmonies, psychedelic guitar, and relentlessly chugging rhythms don’t sound antique — just catchy and comfortingly familiar.
The one quiet number in a lollipop land of relentless uppers, “Of Late” is an airy, gorgeous concoction of delicate folk-flavored murmurs in the Elliott Smith mode. But by and large, this is the kind of sunshiney retro-pop that gets inside your head, zonks you out, and makes you go do things you won’t remember the next day. Unspeakable things. But just because it represents an insidious agenda to turn us all into a zombie army of free lovers and long-sideburn-wearers doesn’t mean it isn’t sweet while it lasts. Most of the tunes keep your head bobbing, your toes tapping, or your spleen convulsing if you try to stand still. There may be nothing new under the sun, but the Waxwings soar close enough to catch fire.