Editors' pick

Army Navy

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Editorial Review

Album review: "The Last Place"

"The Last Place," Army Navy's second longplayer, is a concept album about a bad breakup. But while frontman Justin Kennedy's romance may have been a bummer (she was married, for one thing), this L.A. trio can't bring itself to be grim.

At a time when woozy, mid-tempo brooding is routine in indie rock, Army Navy favors a power-pop style rooted in the giddy mid-'60s music of the Beatles and the Byrds. Guitars ring, vocal harmonies soar and heartbreak can't sour the honeyed melodies.

The album slows at times, notably during "Pastoral" and "Wonderland to Waterloo," and there are hints of country, the traditional genre for crying-in-your-beer sentiments. But Kennedy and company don't spend much time sniffling. Whether emulating their California peers' rock or the Kinks' British-music-hall pop, Army Navy favors the brisk and bright. Whenever Douglas Randall's drums emphatically announce the next twin-guitar surge, it's pretty much impossible to describe this music as anything but happy.

--Mark Jenkins, Oct. 7, 2011