After first introducing themselves with their debut album 'Invitation' back in 2017, it seemed that the supergroup was going to be nothing more than a side-project for the notable members involved. With a line-up that includes Sleater-Kinney co-founder Corin Tucker, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and indie stalwarts Scott McCaughey and Kurt Bloch, it was almost too good to expect that these legends would be able to pull it off ever again. But with less than two years passing, they have returned with their second studio release 'Emerald Valley', a record that tries its best to rekindle the magic behind their first full-length.
While 'Invitation' was met with instant intrigue and expectation for those anticipating this new grouping, the follow-up obviously no longer has that new-band feeling and so has to rely more on the outfit's overall sound and direction, which seems a little less urgent than we were expecting. While some of their initial singles such as 'Last Chance Country' gave us plenty to salivate over in the months prior, much of this new collection seems to struggle in finding its feet as it plays. Filled with a grunge-inspired aesthetic, the band have kept themselves firmly focused on a formula that only produces the goods half of the time, and makes for a fairly lacklustre return.
Although they have to be commended for creating a driven and cohesive collection, this really is a love it or hate it record. Fans of Sleater-Kinney and R.E.M. will mostly find enough to enjoy on here, but for those passing observers, it never sounds quite as good as it looks on paper.