Old World Romance, the latest album from Alex Brown Church, aka Sea Wolf, starts with a track instantly recognizable as an indie rock hit. "Old Friend" opens with a drum machine and builds around shimmery guitar and a catchy chorus that you can sing along with by the second listen. It reminds me of a half-dozen Shins singles, and is destined for the soundtrack of some romantic comedy. I mean that as a good thing. Hits are hard to come by.
The rest of Old World Romance showcases Church's range of skills. The Los Angeles-based musician plays every instrument on the album and, even as a one-man-band, he creates a lush sound. "Priscilla" rings with layered guitars reminiscent of Band of Horses, but softens into an orchestral bridge. Church's subtle harmonies come through in the airy "Kaspar" and the melancholy closer, "Whirlpool." Lest you think the whole thing wallows at an introspective pace, tracks like "In Nothing" and "Saint Catherine St." deliver some timely energy.
There's plenty to keep listeners hooked throughout Old World Romance, which is more than you can say for most albums. But make no mistake, "Old Friend" is the one song worth going back to the most.
Sea Wolf plays the Top Hat Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 9 PM. Hey Marseilles opens. $10.