Personnel: Elizabeth Mitchell (vocals, guitar); Zach Schneider (guitar); Lehmann B. Smith (clarinet); Cam Hassard (saxophone); James Cecil (keyboards, percussion); Ashley Bundang (drums).
Recording information: Electric Dreams and Super Melody World (2013-2014).
Like a more retro Beach House, Australia's Totally Mild make melodic, post-Mazzy Star dream pop with a sunny and simultaneously nostalgic hue on their debut long-player, Down Time. Elizabeth Mitchell's ethereal vocals are a signature of the band's sound, but it's no lopsided affair; Zachary Schneider's guitar work, built on surf guitar tones, is sometimes atmospheric and sometimes hooky, as in the singsong solos of "Nights," but always transfixing. That song also showcases Ringo Starr-like spacious but rhythmically distinctive drumming by Ashley Bundang, indicative of her playing on the album. While some of the melodies are more memorable than others, they're all wide-ranging and endearing. "When I'm Tired" is a particularly intricate standout melody-wise, with meaty Dick Dale and girl group voicings affecting a peppy but otherworldly, Twin Peaks-type anachronistic feel. The sweet "Always Around" is a likewise catchy if moseying ditty with a dreamy, aria-like tune. Most of the album is genial, though there are woebegone moments, like the melancholic "The Next Day" ("I'm in bed and I never want to go outside again") and the doleful sax solo at the end of "Money or Fame" to close the record. With only two of its ten tracks over three minutes in length, Down Time flies by and feels a bit like a good standup comedian who's still working up enough material for her first tight hour; the foundation and style are there, but we're left wanting more. ~ Marcy Donelson