Yet here we have Welcome Joy, their second long-player in just shy of two years, so if this is all a goof, this bunch has an enviable amount of time to screw around. It’s yet another fine and mellow set of twangy, slightly tart folk rockers, warm but patchy like a farmer’s tan. Lead singer Pete Quirk’s amber voice is wavering and grainy as ever, and the tunes roll by nice and easy like a pickup rattling down a country road. But from the wide open arrangements to the tug’n’tumble of Fudesco’s picking to Quirk’s reedy bleats never quite congealing into memorable ditties, Welcome Joy does precious little to distinguish itself from its predecessor.
These tunes seem like they’d fall over in a strong enough breeze, and with songs rarely composed of more than the wispy lilt of the guitar and Quirk’s slightly droll drawlery, there’s not always enough to catch your ear over the whirr of the boxfan. Quirk’s behind-the-beat delivery is certainly the band’s strongest suit, but combined with those rusty pipes, he tends to swallow syllables whole, rendering lyrics more than occasionally indecipherable. That might be for the best, actually, given the hippy-dippy pastoralism of the odd word or two that does slip out. Fudesco’s fingerwork, a product of his Pac NW upbringing, is impressively unfettered, but he adds the same little bump in the road to nearly every tune, which wears with time; at least Modest Mouse had the good sense to make only “Wild Packs of Family Dogs” weird, and make it only once.