Been on a bit of a power-pop kick, and this definitely scratches the itch...
The four P's of Robert Pollard (pop, punk, prog and psych) are elements I look for in rock records... When I started counting P's on Old Friends, pop and psych were reached in the first few seconds... as for prog, there are several Captain Beefheart-style horn freakouts that add to the tension and offset the sweetness of the vocals and guitar melodies... I don't know about punk, unless a Guided by Voices connection fits the bill. Song two, "Echoes", starts out as an almost note-for-note copy of the opening of "Game of Pricks". Man, if you're going to sound like someone, you can sell me a lot of records sounding like Alien Lanes-era GbV.
I really like the drumming on this record; it anchors the sound nicely, inasmuch as the songs on this record can be considered "anchored"... there are definitely jazz elements here, but not so much that Old Friends loses its focus as a pop record. The vocals are a bit understated (honestly, I don't pay a lot of attention to the lyrics so the fact that they're buried in the mix a bit does not bother me in the least). The guitars play well together, and there's a bit of piano on the beat as well as organ and the aforementioned horn parts to add variety and reset the songs here and there.
Finally, there are songs on here that definitely call to mind Apples in Stereo and there are songs that remind me of one of my favorite psych-pop bands ever: Oranger. Oranger, wherever you are, here's hoping you are planning a comeback, that you get a copy of this record and that it inspires you. I certainly am enjoying it.
Video for opening track "The Wylde Boys":
LINK: I Was a King at Sounds Familyre (3 MP3s available)
LINK: I Was a King Myspace