The California Oranges are still at odds with the album format. You could argue that this is a sign of stunted growth for a band that's been at it this long (Souvenir
is their third full-length), and whose members have been writing and recording music for even longer, but it's more an extension of their chosen aesthetic. The Oranges make like Rubber Soul
never existed and churn out punchy melodic guitar rock best suited for 45s; this is the stuff of radio shows, dance parties and mixtapes -- not the raw material for 40 minutes of sustained artistry.
Naturally, Souvenir whizzes by in a candy-coated blur unless each track is taken on its own terms, in which case it becomes an even, accomplished effort. "Three Orange Tigers" and "Good Luck Charm" operate on a don't-let-'em-know-what-hit-'em principle, dashing by with multi-faceted melodies that prove difficult to unravel but leave a striking, favorable impression, while "Falling Back" brandishes an instant-nostalgia-trip guitar riff that thumbs through the three-dollar CD bin while wearing rose-colored aviator sunglasses ("Dude, weren't Sarge great?"). Even the filler has its merits -- "Next Season", for instance, redeems dry, palm-muted emo chugging with a sunny breeze-pop chorus.
These twelve songs might have been easier to process as a series of singles, but hey, at least this tidy package saves us a few bucks.