Suburban Hymns(DeSoto Records)

The Life and Times 

Suburban Hymns(DeSoto Records)

It’s always tough for a frontman of a beloved local act to delicately usher in his new project without protest. But Allen Epley, formerly of the sonically adventurous Shiner, has such an intent with the Life and Times. Suburban Hymns, the band’s first full-length, clearly demonstrates each member’s talent, but overall, the sound can’t get away from conveying a stoned, older version of Epley’s previous band. Hymns’ strengths are most apparent on its opening track, “My Last Hostage” — the delay and reverb soar magnificently into arena-rock territory while the Moog gently escorts the melody without the slightest hint of excess. From there, Hymns becomes less cohesive — it moves steadily and clocks in at just 41 minutes, but it feels much longer. The highs achieved by “My Last Hostage,” “Skateland” and “Mia Culpa” are bogged down by the way the other tracks plod along, virtually indistinguishable from one another. Epley’s fans will fawn over his buttery vocal delivery, but others will have to hope that future Life and Times albums allow the band to transcend its status as a bland, VH1-ready version of Shiner. Judge for yourself when the Life and Times plays a CD release party Friday at the Brick.

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