Mixing roots-rock twang and bubbling power pop, the Damnwells
tread a path similar to the Goo Goo Dolls before that band became a hot adult-contemporary staple, a similarity heightened by how much Alex Dezen's grainy tenor resembles that of the Dolls' Johnny Reznik. The group's full-length debut, Bastards of the Beat
, leaned hard on the hooks with punchy, head-bobbing arrangements, but the newer Air Stereo
tacks toward a lonesome, lap-steel-fueled alt-country lope. Not necessarily a misstep so much as a missed opportunity, the album suffers from the sophomore slump and proves too heavily tilted toward ballads instead of the crisp pop songs that seem to be the Damnwells' strength.