Michael Smith, lead singer and guitarist of Dayton, Ohio's Lab Partners, has a gorgeous vibrato that endears itself to the listener before Daystar's first track is even halfway over. Steady and warm, it cascades intuitively around acoustic chords in the sluggishly-paced "Gold". When double-tracked, it packs a Marc Bolan-esque punch, assisted in no small part by the bandís affinity for fuzz rock guitar stunts and mock-sneering '70s attitude.

Songs like "You Make It Better" travel down the well-worn Shoegazer path, minding the Jesus & Mary Chain stones that line its blurry edges. The wall-of-sound chorus and lazy melodies are as delicious as any morsel on your old My Bloody Valentine albums, although far less browbeaten. Amy Smithís tasteful keyboard and flute lends "Furthest from Love" a wistful feel, underpinned by chugging, cymbal-heavy drums. And look ma, no bass guitar! A few tracks ("Still Shine On", "Furthest from Love," Daystar) easily break the eight-minute mark, but if you're hip to reverb-drenched jams you hardly notice. Meaty as hell at just under 73 minutes, Daystar doesn't have to put on any epic pretensions. It is epic.

Excluding GBV and Swearing at Motorists' recent LP's, I dare say this is the best album released from a Dayton band in a long time. Dennis Mullins' production is crisp and forceful, never losing sight of the fact that texture and variety make all the difference in songs that slather themselves in drone and echo. What Lab Partners really bring to the psychedelic/space-rock table is a reassuring hand and a warmth of sentiment thatís refreshing compared to indie rock's typical distanced irony or detached pathos. Daystar is the perfect album for that long road trip, day in the sun, or night under the covers.

- John Wenzel (www.sponiczine.com)

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