[RUST-BELT POP ROCK] Quiet Life's "San Luis Obispo" is a carefree slice of twanged-out Americana, bustling with tight, countrified swagger and Tom Petty-ish guitar. It exemplifies the Portland folk outfit's increasing teetering into pop territory. Whereas the band's first LP found solace in soothing, back-porch ballads and tender pageantry, Wild Pack prides itself in jauntier fits of Americana. The uptempo, Buddy Holly-esque lead single, "Devil's Kin," pummels with rolling drums and slicing electric guitar, while the tribal undertones and quick wordplay of "Losing All My Common Sense" shuffles pleasantly like an early Dr. Dog B-side. But frontman Sean Spellman's homespun songwriting shines through most on the still, softer sides of Wild Pack, such as the gentle heartbreaker "Record Time" and the brooding, Southern-gothic title track. The album is not a major leap forward for Quiet Life, but gradual change is better than none at all.
HEAR IT: Wild Pack is out Tuesday, Oct. 29.