2012's Long Slow Dance served as The Fresh & Onlys' fourth album in as many years. The 11-track offering is a mature, anthemic and – in subtle ways – pretty weird album. A lot is going on here, but it's not in your face about it. While not their first time in a "real" studio, it's instantly clear that their time spent at Phil Manley's Lucky Cat Studios was the most fun and focused recording environment the group had been in up to that time.
"We spent more time recording this than we had on records in the past," bassist and co-founder Shayde Sartin says." "Phil Manley certainly had a good influence on us in the studio; he's very meticulous with the kind of sound he's trying to get for each song, and the record definitely has its own vibe." The tunes were captured on the same 16-track two-inch reel-to-reel that Warren Zevon recorded "Werewolves of London." "That was a very important song for me growing up, so it was inspiring in some mysterious way to know that we were tracking on that very machine," Shayde adds.
The group is capable of a level of articulation about their own music that's refreshing as hell. Take the second song, the absolutely propulsive, kick-ass love song "Yes or No," which was "meant to be an anthem, but I guess you could say it was more desperate – the overwhelming desire to please someone and then feeling as though you have failed and being confused by that," Shayde relates. The opening song, "20 Days and 20 Nights," matches a midtempo pop number that could have been on Echo and the Bunnymen's Crocodiles LP with the sort of playful, keyboard-and-double-tracked-vocals-enhanced production one might associate with the Chills' Brave Words record.
It's little touches like that Western guitar line in "20 Days" which are everywhere here. They slyly propel the record beyond what you thought it might be about, or was going to be on first listen (perhaps another tasteful and kind of weird rock record which mixes and matches cool stuff from obscure record collections). It is tasteful, of course, and it clearly mixes many things together. But it does this at the service of forceful songs – frequently witty and often lovely compositions.