Big Echo is the sound of a career synthesizing into a kaleidoscope of sound and imagery. The Morning Benders have delivered on their potential.

After a needle drop and a rumbling "2...3...4...," we're launched into "Excuses," a show-starting slab of retro-pop glory -- boomer-era dance music that recalls the Ronettes. From there we enter the not-as-bombastic but gorgeous realm of "Promises," and then the jangly, white-soul swinger "Wet Cement."

Nothing that follows sounds quite as carefree or in-your-face dazzling as the opener, which speaks for the band's newfound range. Songs such as "Mason Jar" and "Sleeping In" are anything but optimistic: "If you give them one thing, they just want more." Jaded sentiment is not something the Berkeley band is known for. Big Echo has the Morning Benders transcending their own M.O. and becoming something much more affective because of it.

  • Album title: Big Echo (2010)
  • Artist: the Morning Benders
  • Label: Rough Trade
  • Songs: (1) Excuses (2) Promises (3) Wet Cement (4) Cold War (5) Pleasure Sighs (6) Hand Me Downs (7) Mason Jar (8) All Day Day Light (9) Stiches (10) Sleeping In

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