The debut album from Austin rockers Black Books was released in the UK last week. They kick off a tour across the pond tonight in London, playing alongside the Flaming Lips. I am a little spiteful about the fact that England seems to have gotten the jump on embracing this band. Spiteful, and jealous, and a little sad.

Their sound has drawn comparisons to Band of Horses, Beach House, and My Morning Jacket – another chapter in the good book of country twang from outer space. But there’s a unique element of playfulness here, snuck in betweeen the fuzzy guitar swells and carousel organ runs of “The Big Idea.” The Texas blues they fed those boys + girl down in Austin is still at the root of Black Books’ songs, but the band seems to have decided there’s a bit of light at the tunnel, retaining a pervasive optimism with sunny, yawning melodies throughout.

We’re seeing the raw beautiful beginnings of a band that’s going to be around for a long time. Though they work in a four-piece setup, there’s an element of atmospheric electronica present only in the wallpaper of the songs, rounding out and embellishing foundations laid by guitars and voice. These are subtler influences of Tame Impala and Thom Yorke sniffing around the edges of Ross Gilfillan’s drawling croon – good omens for the future of a developing sound. The five tracks streaming below serve as an “album sampler,” as the full release has yet to make it over from Britain to stores in the US… which is incredibly annoying, Black Books. Handle that shit. Please.

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