We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
The Stands kick off the first track of their first album with a lament: “I have waaaiiited so looooong for the da-a-aaawwwn/Through the lo-o-ooong, looooong niiight alone.” And darn if the song, as well as much of what follows on the 12-track All Years Leaving, doesn’t sound as if it’s been a long time coming. That’s not simply because, as publicity materials trumpet, the Liverpudlian quartet passed over a quickie record deal in favor of sweating over each track. No, the Stands wear their vintage influences on their suede-jacket sleeves: a certain other Liverpudlian quartet, some electric Dylan, the Buffalo SpringByrds. The result is that All Years Leaving, which yielded a Top 40 single back home in Britain, tends to offer a beautifully crafted lesson in familiarity. Spinning the Rickenbacker-rich, radio-ready “Here She Comes Again,” you might swear the liner notes, which credit all songs to Stands lead singer Howie Payne, are mistaken: The song is basically a slightly less upbeat version of the La’s “There She Goes,” capturing the whole of that now-inescapable number’s McGuinn-for-modern-times vibe in a brisk 2 minutes 16. Likewise, the rambling country of “I Need You” bears at least a passing resemblance to Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” and that disc-opener, “I’ve Waited So Long,” cribs the chugging guitar line from Creedence’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” The last cut, the vaguely Revolver/Pepper’s-sounding “The Way She Does,” is the loosest, with the band delaying delivery of the final verse via a roughly 4-minute jam session. The Stands are at their most adventurous here, especially the usually self-effacing drummer, Steve Pilgrim, who breaks his solo up into a series of subtle, blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em beats. If he and his bandmates haven’t yet succeeded in putting their own stamp on their favorite music—assuming that’s even their ambition—their energetic album goes down far too easily for the lack of originality to matter that much. After all, even if you can’t mix a new cocktail from your influences, you can still enjoy the buzz, right? Those who wish to hear the definitive Stands album will probably be waiting at least a little while longer, but for most of us, All Years Leaving should be just intoxicating enough. —Joe Dempsey