At first it sounded as if NYC's Dolly Spartans' ancestral relatives were all local (http://dollyspartans.bandcamp.com/album/dolly-spartans). The vocal bridge at :49 of “Don't Be Sad” could convincingly pass for post-ROSTAM Vampire Weekend. “Tell Me” at 2:45 is the Strokes, albeit of surprising Comedown Machine-vintage. But the similarities may end there. After all, continuing to listen to “Don't Be Sad” past the Ezra Koenig doppelganging, and 1:16 jumps right out into choral melodies worthy of Wavves.
But Dolly Spartans impressed me in the same way Smoking Popes did, whom I hadn't heard until I saw them live. Dude was crooning, emotive hand gestures unencumbered by guitar, until he strapped one on, shred it to shit, then put it back down. Much like the Popes, Spartans are all vocal beauty, pop songcraft, and guitar dynamics, sometimes within a single song: on “Who Are You,” vocals hitting tender highs as the song demands (at :57); a decidedly pop hook of da-da-das; and a symphony of four- and six-strings at 1:52.
With their rhythm section firmly in sync, Dolly Spartans can concentrate on the little things, convinced they add up: the interplay at 1:37 of “She's Got Treasures”; the 90s payoff chord at 3:02 of “Something on My Mind”; the dueling guitar riffs at 1:51 of “Don't Be Sad.”
They're music schoolers with an ear for pop.
*** The author of this review, Brandon Kelly, plays the dundun for the following band: http://youtu.be/tMS73-1kCr8