The Fresh & Onlys - "Do You Believe In Destiny?" (Secret Walls)
Dimestore parsons in Haight-Ashbury’s garage revival, The Fresh & Onlys stand out only because they preach so much more. Sure, there’s a rough-hewn patina that rusts atop everything they record. And they do record an awful lot. Listening to their spate of splits, sevens and side-longs, buzz words like lo-fi and DIY are indeed pretty apt. But as they’ve shown, ever-increasingly, since their breakout single “Peacock & Wing,” Tim Cohen, Shayde Sartin and friends are simply getting too cool for the bedroom, too good for the basement. But unlike some of their Bay City contemporaries, whom hubris alone has forced their more professional sound, blind ambition’s not to blame. No, it’s more organic — dare I say, fresher — than that.
Don’t act too surprised; we all saw it coming. Ever since their 2009 disc for Woodsist, Grey-Eyed Girls, the band’s been itching to go psyche. Likewise, last November’s Play It Strange was littered with art rock pangs. Thus, nearly every song on Secret Walls sounds inspired by something other than, well, The Fresh & Onlys. The title cut, with its spring reverb, acoustic strums and piano pallor, could almost pass for a Grizzly Bear number. Similarly, “Keep Telling Everybody Lies” features a rich, baritone vocal grounded with a Nuggets organ and bottom string guitar that plays like a noir film. The band has never gone this far out stylistically, and it suits them well.
“Do You Believe in Destiny” and “Wash Over Us” are standard issue Roky roll, and once the delightful “Poison Well” is done, one thing becomes abundantly clear: there’s not an honest-to-god rocker to be found anywhere. Of course, for a band as fast and loose as The Fresh & Onlys, this is hardly a problem. After all, like I said before, we couldn’t help but see this one coming. To wit, the walls are thin, and the secret out. With these five songs, The Fresh & Onlys have finally moved out of the garage for good. Don’t think twice, it’s all right. And please, don’t look back.