Touched feels in flux. It's one half summer-loving, one half winter doldrums. "Lady Cascade," for instance, employs beachy ba-da-das, but wallows under a waterlogged tempo. Like an old Nuggets LP on slo-mo, most of the album tries to rally from slumber, dragging listeners through hazy tracks with the mellowest of tender crescendos. The opener, "Smart Hurts," sums up the mood: "You seem so tired lately/ You think too much." Yet Spiritual Mansions are at their best when fully awake. "State Song" rumbles comfortably at midtempo, mildly hopped up on Question Mark and the Mysterians-style keyboard breakdowns. The song is also cleverly masked in a mystique that peppers the album. Take this lyric: "She's got eyes like Minnesota/ and a voice like Illinois." I hoped a trip to the liner notes might reveal some hidden meaning, but no. I'm going to imagine this means "glazed over" and "has a dorky accent." Meanwhile, "The Sweeter Side" is another upbeat diversion, a foot-stomping reverie complete with friendly trumpet lines and Beach Boys-worthy harmonies. But despite Touched's sunny highlights, Ryan Harris's droopy vocals only remind us of sludgy grey February. Perhaps we should hold our iPods close to our cheeks just to feel the glow.
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