After two albums of desert-parched, reverb-caked garage rock revivalism, it might seem like the Allah-Las were due for some kind of drastic change. Apart from jumping from one cool record label (Innovative Leisure) to another (Mexican Summer), the four guys in the band have maintained a steady course of minor-key jangle, relaxed Zombies-like balladry, and the occasional tambo-shaking rocker on their third record, Calico Review.
A lesser band with fewer sneaky hooks up its sleeve or a sound that wasn't as locked down as this one might have suffered for putting out three albums that have such a similar feel and sonic footprint. The Allah-Las don't, and Calico Review is easily the match of their first two albums, with lots of songs that stand out like lost '60s singles by a foppish British group ("Famous Phone Figure") or a rock-solid Texas punk band ("Could Be You") or the house band at a groovy Sunset Strip nightclub ("200 South La Brea"). Along with these, the quartet lays down a few nocturnal gems (the Velvet Underground-esque "Strange Heat," "Mausoleum"), some plaintive folk-rock ("Terra Ignota"), a bit of organ-heavy melancholia ("Place in the Sun"), and lots of tremolo and fuzz to help build the wonderfully heady atmosphere.
There's nothing on Calico Review the Allah-Las haven't done before, but with each outing they seem to be more in control of their sound (making it fuller and more textured), their voices (which continue to get stronger and less snotty), and their gradually evolving songwriting. Worship the Sun was pretty great garage rock revivalism filtered through a gently psychedelic filter; Calico Review might be even better.