The Beatifics: The Way We Never Were

The Beatifics
The Way We Never Were
The Bus Stop Label

Maybe the timing is right. Urban warfare in the streets of Baghdad appears imminent. Our "economic recovery" continues to crumble. And projections on how quickly a smallpox outbreak would spread are no longer just the fodder of sci-fi novels. What we need is a diversion, a respite from all the CNN-hyped doom and gloom. And the Beatifics' latest release, The Way We Never Were, is the perfect anti-stimulant for the current cultural climate--easy to listen to, easy to remember, and easy to forget. In a more stable socio-political environment, you might call it bland. But for now, we'll just label it accessible.

The Way We Never Were is that sort of shimmering light alternapop that is best suited to a slow Sunday afternoon drive: It makes no demands on you and offers little in return. The album is the first full-length release by Chris Dorn and friends since 1996's How I Learned to Stop Worrying, and the passage of six years hasn't appeared to generate any kernels of accumulated wisdom or expanded musical vocabulary. The opening track, "Sorry Yesterdays," sets the pace with its insistent vocal refrain, bright, slowly strummed guitars, and heavy backbeats that keep your head bobbing along. From there, the next nine songs lope along lazily with little evolution in intensity or theme. But Dorn's vocals--the focal point of this release--still manage to catch your attention.

On "The Only One," he croons "You'll always be the bitter thing that I could never play for keeps/Exactly like the kind of dream that never lets you back asleep," his voice floating softly above the straightforward song structure. The cathartic effect of The Way We Never Were may be fleeting, but for a brief moment, it can help you forget about the world that lies outside the song.

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