[FOLKISH PSYCH POP] Nineteen seconds of bright, delicate guitar strums and the warbling cry of the Great Northern Loon is one way to start an album. It's fitting, though, given that the Parson Red Heads' third LP, Orb Weaver, represents a new dawn of sorts for the band—one rooted in warm familiarity, yet somehow poles apart from previous offerings.
Orb Weaver, released on the heels of the Portland quartet's reissue of its second LP, finds the band residing in a different place sonically. The group's former album was a tight blend of harmony-rich country pop, and though its new offering is still Southern-fried and bell-bottomed with sweet guitar riffage, it feels less contrived. Laid-back lead single "Every Mile" and the Byrds-esque "I Never Sleep" both billow with four-part harmonies and lead vocalist Evan Way's sense of longing. "Lost Again" gently smolders, while tracks like "Borrow Your Car" blaze with spry guitar interplay akin to the Drive-By Truckers.
Meanwhile, "To the Sky," with its balmy bassline, introspective lyrics and brief fits of psychedelia, is the kind of extended power-pop cut that sounds like a lost Revolver B-side. It's still brightly polished and jaunty, but maybe producer Scott McCaughey finally told the band what it needed to hear most: Just play the damn thing.
SEE IT: The Parson Red Heads play Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave., with Mimicking Birds and the Alialujah Choir, on Saturday, Nov. 2. 8 pm. $12 advance, $15 day of show. All ages.