Brooklyn trio Nude Beach‘s breakthrough sophomore album, 2012′s II, was compared to artists such as Elvis Costello, Tom Petty and the Replacements, but power-pop aficionados might have heard echoes of smaller bands like the Rubinoos, Badfinger and even the Raspberries, albeit with more fuzz on top of the bright melodies.
The band’s follow up, 77, is a sprawling double album that further separates it from the power-pop pack with a cleaner sound to accentuate its melodic prowess. Gone are any Costello, Petty or Westerberg reference points — early Costello was never this polished, Petty always had more of an Americana bent, and the Replacements were never so proficient. “Used to It” is positively mid-period Byrds with countrified sway and slide guitar. Songs like “I’m Not Like You” and “Can’t Get Enough” sound like outtakes from II but with more focus. And “Time” is an unapologetic ballad about hurt, self-questioning and the passage of time.
The only question is whether, at more than twice the length of the band’s previous albums, 77 is too much of a good thing. Nude Beach’s progenitors made their names in 30-some-minute albums that hit with melodic genius and left before wearing out their welcome. 77 bucks this idea and, in doing so, risks diluting the power of what’s being presented. The quality never suffers, but 18 songs is pushing it. Still, with 77, Nude Beach has entered a new echelon.