Monster Music & Movies

Artist: Wrens
Format: CD

Formats and Editions


The Wrens disappeared off the rock radar in 1996, consigned to the scrap heap of alterna-rock and banished to forgotten mix tapes. But the New Jersey band didn't really break up after its seeming finale, a beloved album in indie-rock circles named after the Wrens' hometown of Secaucus. They merely went through a series of label mishaps, continually icing what would eventually be their third album. Seven years later, the quartet returns intact with another tribute to a section of their northern Jersey home, The Meadowlands. Now in their mid to late 30s, the Wrens were bound to come off as more mature, and they do, but their new songs also have a comforting familiarity in tone. The jerking guitar hook and fuzzed out harmonies of "This Boy Is Exhausted" recall Fables-era R.E.M., even if the biting lyrics take aim at a more modern topic-a major label A&R guy who scorned the band (Steve Ralbovsky, who reportedly went on to sign the Strokes). The casual pace and ringing guitars of "Hopeless" bring back memories of another Jersey band that's sadly overlooked, the Feelies. The Wrens also excel at playing crafty, driving pop, as on the rousing "Ex-Girl Collection," and they're deft enough to allude to country without becoming cloyingly twangy on "13 Months in 6 Minutes." It's not surprising they'd allude to time that doesn't exactly fly, nor when singer Charles Bissell opens the album with the line, "It's been so long since you've heard from me." Rather than grow stale or bitter, the Wrens have sucked up their tough luck and returned with a homespun album that's just what it needs to be-timeless.
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