On their sophomore effort, Still Life, Los Angeles’ Massage manage to take a quantum leap forward in songwriting, production, and depth, all without seeming to try. These 12 deft songs are full of late-summer sunlight and deep shadows, pained grins and shared jokes, shy declarations of love and quietly nursed heartbreak. Still Life resurrects a brief, romantic moment in the late-’80s, right after post-punk and immediately before alt-rock, when it seemed like any scrappy indie band might stumble across a hit.
The kind of music Massage makes—sunny, bittersweet, tender—is less a proper genre than a minor zip code nested within guitar pop. Take a little “There She Goes” by the La’s, some “If You Need Someone” by the Field Mice; the honey-drizzled guitars from The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love,” a Jesus & Mary Chain backbeat, and you’re almost all the way there. Indie pop, jangle pop, power pop—whatever you call it, pushing too hard scares the spirit right out of this sweet, diffident music, and Massage have a touch so light the songs seem to form spontaneously, like wry smiles
Still Life sees release via Mt.St.Mtn in partnership with Bobo Integral (Spain) and Tear Jerk Records (Australia) on June 25. It is offered on coke bottle green vinyl and will be distributed worldwide by Revolver USA and Cargo UK. Pre-order it here.