Pheasant may not be carving a particularly distinctive niche for itself, but the band is getting closer by the album. The group's sophomore LP, Gravel Beach, is a collection of folky, country-tinged pop tunes that doesn't represent a radical departure from Pheasant's full-length debut, Black Field. But the band continues to seamlessly blend and borrow from vintage classic-rock acts and more recent indie heavyweights.
"Country Young," a slow-burning number with crooning harmonies and Skynyrd-esque guitar work, could have fit nicely on the band's debut. Other cuts reflect a more modern approach: "Dreaming On" evokes Modest Mouse, while the opening trumpet on "Fools Gold" bring to mind Patti Page's "Conquest" before tearing into a slide-laden surf-rock jam. The upbeat closer, "Never Coming Back," is filled with heartfelt sentiment and a blistering guitar solo.
Although lead singer Matt Jenkins' voice has become more mature and controlled since Black Field, there are moments on the record where you feel he's about to let loose in a flurry of vocal prowess only to draw back. Gravel Beach is a record to be proud of, yet it shows the same promise as Pheasant's debut—darting around but never hitting the mark dead center.
SEE IT: Pheasant plays Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., with Summer Cannibals and Fanno Creek, on Thursday, March 28. 9 pm. $6. 21+.