When California psychedelic-country band Beachwood Sparks toured behind its debut album in 2000, its first East Coast show was at D.C.’s Black Cat. Or at least it was supposed to be. The opening act finished and the Sparks were nowhere to be seen. Club employees were in touch by cellphone with band members, who kept insisting they were mere minutes away. Those minutes turned into hours and eventually the show was canceled.
So when “The Tarnished Gold” appeared more than a decade after 2001’s “Once We Were Trees,” it made a weird sort of sense. Beachwood Sparks has always moved at its own pace. The new album picks up where the previous two left off, with sun-kissed Summer of Love jams that are as unhurried as the band’s recording schedule. For those summer days when it’s too hot to do much of anything at all, it’s hard to think of a better lazing-around soundtrack.
Any rocking is always done softly, with banjo plucks leading the gentle gallop of “Talk About Lonesome.” “Sparks Fly Again” is something of a reintroductory anthem but it doesn’t so much soar as glide. The only song to pull listeners out of a pleasant hippie haze is the mariachi-flavored “No Queremos Oro,” which is sweet but still a stumble. It reinforces the fact that Sparks is at its best when it stays in its own lane and takes it slow, even if it does mean missing a show, or a decade.
“Talk About Lonesome,” “Sparks Fly Again”