Charlene have been compared in print to every spacy/dreamy/noisy Brit-pop band (and their shoegazing American cousins) under the cloudy skies, from New Order to Spiritualized. The local trio’s homonymous CD begs a flattering reference on every song. You could hum a languid Jesus and Mary Chain melody over the first track, the all too fittingly titled " Ripoff. " And the hooky " Shoot Yr. Life " certainly resembles the La’s with " There She Goes. "
Overall, however, the album comes into focus as an artful homage to a broad genre rather than a tribute to any single artist. Bassist John Rex, guitarist Matt Mirande, and drummer Ian Lawrence, who recorded the CD themselves at their at-home Dented Head Studios, borrow from the best, and they repay their debts with creative intelligence and style. The songs are lush and symphonic one moment, purposefully spare the next. Sweetly narcotic two- and three-chord progressions are infused with jet-engine blasts of guitar distortion, odd organic samples, and sophisticated bits of ambient instrumentation — xylophone, French horn, little rips of blown-out percussion. There’s also plenty of contemplative space: long, minimalist intros and outros, sudden sonic mood changes, textural meanderings (the new-agey atmospherics of " Cathode, " for instance). It all reflects a promising sense of artistic balance and vision from this band.