Power or beauty: You usually can't have it both ways. On Sandwich, the sophomore effort from Charlotte quartet The Sammies, the band seems unable to decide which is more important. The resulting album feels muddled despite a handful of strong tracks. Clearly, the band knows its way around a hook, and this record is more to the point than the last, with more than half of its 13 tracks barely breaking the three-minute mark. Among the winners: "Sleep in My Clothes" rings with power-pop glory; "Old Grey" haunts with warm folk strains; "In the Basement," whose finger-snapped rhythm and prominent bass pulse recalls "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," rocks with exo-garage energy.
But these tracks are spread too thinly across the album, interspersed as it is with too many billowing, atmospheric rock ballads, which suffer from Frank Backgammon's limited vocals. The psych-pop tune "Golden Sun" sounds like second-rate Luna, and the album's first half sinks beneath the tune's hazy melodicism. It isn't until the aforementioned "In the Basement," and the bloozy cock-rock rave up that follows, "Treat Her Like a Queen," that the band finally lights smudge pot 15 minutes too late, long after the momentum's quickly squandered. We're left with questions about sequencing and intent, hooks and heft. This band isn't talented enough to pull off both.
The Sammies plays with Mad Tea Party Saturday, Aug. 23, at 10 p.m. at The Pour House. Tickets are $3-$6.