Give Sat. Nite Duets credit where credit is due: For a band that has long cultivated an image of scruffy, tongue-in-cheek good-time dudes who are prone to use hashtags like #blessed and #tite on Twitter, they’ve never made the same record twice. The group’s early albums and EPs were heavily indebted to the shagginess of Pavement, but by the time 2012’s Summer Of Punishment rolled around, a more idiosyncratic and confident indie-rock sound had begun to take hold. Last year’s excellent Electric Manland took things in a different direction, serving up an album full of TV- and junk-culture-obsessed psych, prog, and fuzzed-out rock. Despite that grab-bag of styles and genres, Manland somehow ended up being the Duets’ most realized and cohesive album to date. Go figure.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that Sat. Nite Duets’ latest 8-song EP, Los DJs, represents yet another subtle shift in style and tone. But there is something surprising about it. For one, it’s by far the most rough and ragged record the group has released in years. Scorching opener “On My Honor” is all basement-level production and wigged-out guitars, topped off with the kind of disarmingly bittersweet vocals the band has long been known for. “TV Loverboy” slyly cops the guitar line from Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl,” of all things, and turns it into an agreeably goofy tune custom built for drinking warm beer and watching the Pro Bowl with a bunch of creepy friends. (You know, one of those parties.) “Band On The Rocks,” meanwhile, spends half its runtime in instrumental mode before breaking into a full-on reggae jam, because that’s the sort of thing that always seems to happen with Sat. Nite Duets. “Viva Los DJs” continues the song-title wordplay with a tossed-off mini-anthem custom built for drinking warm beer and watching…well, you get the idea.

Like nearly all Sat. Nite Duets songs, there’s more than a little winking going on here. But for those who bristle at such things, one listen to Los DJs’ best track, “Burning For The Flame,” should help erase any lingering doubts about the band. “Flame” is a two-minute shot of pure, hook-driven garage-rock goodness, culminating in a shout-along chorus that’s simultaneously wide-eyed and defeated, touching on the band’s pet obsession of gloriously wasted summer days. It’s a perfect mess of a song, and a perfect calling card for Sat. Nite Duets’ latest stylistic gear-shift.

Sat. Nite Duets: Los DJs
Key Tracks
  • "Burning For The Flame"
  • "On My Honor"
  • "Band On The Rocks"
3.5Overall Score
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