Nearly four years have passed since A Crowd of Small Adventures released The Evil Archipelago, the eight-song EP that established the band as a whimsical-indie-rock powerhouse. Jackson Wilcox's trembling vocals and graceful acoustic guitar, in conjunction with burbling carnival keyboards and shambling rhythmic grooves, hinted at acts such as Wolf Parade, Of Montreal and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
Since then, ACOSA has become the go-to local support for touring acts such as Xiu Xiu, Camera Obscura and Surfer Blood. The band also added bassist Ronald Corso, whose production skills and National SouthWestern Electronic Recordings studio are well-known around town. Judging by ACOSA's long-awaited debut full-length, A Decade in X-Rays, his expertise has helped solidify the quartet's sound.
- A Crowd of Small Adventures
- A Decade in X-Rays
- Beauty Bar, Sunday, 8:45 p.m.
Although the album compares to current indie darlings Ra Ra Riot and Local Natives, it's far more timeless, closer to the enchanted power-pop of XTC or Jellyfish. Older songs "Death of an Idol" and "See Her" explode with nuance, their percussion twinkles and chirpy synths rich and lush. Megan Wingerter's ballet-dainty violin minces around Mike Weller's stuttering drums on live staple "Gemini," while a re-recording of ACOSA's signature song, "Bang Bang," feels as reverent as a hymn, thanks to fluttering guitars and more string majesty.
Among Decade's newer songs, opener "Ancient Giants" is the best. Reverb-coated background murmurs and atmospheric space-keyboards hover above cutting acoustic riffs, giving Wilcox the chance to show off some indie-pop crooning à la the Shins' James Mercer. In general, though, Decade smoothes out its vocalist's youthful yelps—a progression that matches ACOSA's own maturation.