The Faraway Places

The title is something of an imperative: Lean back, kick off your flip-flops and don't bogart that joint, my friend. This charming, endlessly listenable debut from the Los Angeles band--spearheaded by writer/producer Chris Colthart, who also sings and plays guitar--is brimming with spaced-out '60s pop, like the soundtrack to a long, stoned summer afternoon. The jaunty surfer ditty "City on the Ocean" is all tanned shoulders with a Beach Boys hook, while "Summertime" (sung by keyboardist Donna Coppola) is as slow and mellow as sunset, with its languid tempo and Nico vocals, heavy with ennui. Even with those foot-draggers, the album manages to be fizzy and bright, like an overexposed snapshot--in fact, that's the image on the inside liner notes, green trees blotted out by a burst of sun. With lyrics that can be difficult to hear, far less comprehend, it's sometimes tough to tell what's going on--but that may be the point: Unfocus on it. Dude.

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