The new album from Bay Area folk-rock outfit China is one of those delights that you live for as a reviewer. Their name is pretty much unknown (300 likes on their Facebook page, no website, you get the idea) let alone their music, but as soon as the first notes of opener ‘Marnie’ drift out of the speakers you’re hooked and remain so for the remaining nine tracks. There are quietly gorgeous harmonies, wistful vocals, dollops of psychedelica and richly evocative soundscapes (sorry, but it is the right word, cliché or not). There’s also enough muscle on songs like ‘Bitter Sailor’ to stop things drifting off into feyness.
There are echoes of the Byrds and early Neil Young scattered throughout but a) that’s no bad thing and b) China incorporate them perfectly into their own sound which evokes the best of the past while updating it for a contemporary audience. The title track is sumptuous, the lyrics insightful, and the whole set is more more-ish than a very more-ish thing indeed. This is the sort of thoughtful and evocative music that most bands can only dream of. China have made something happen and we should all be grateful to them for it.