A year ago, Athens native Eli Truett unveiled his new musical project, the Salt Flats. A collective that creates, as Truett describes it, “rock for all ages,” the group’s majestic, reverb-soaked style recalls My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses and fellow locals Futurebirds. Despite obvious similarities to these bands, the Salt Flats distinguish themselves from the pack through Truett’s voice, a rich yet understated baritone that’s at once apathetic and emotional.
Closely following the band’s debut EP, You’ve Got Eyes, the Salt Flats’ first full-length album, Testing, is a lean collection of 10 lumbering, texturally spacious cuts. While the album doesn’t skimp on vocal passages, Truett’s singing is tasteful and agreeable, allowing the music to breathe rather than overpowering it. Walls of reverberated guitars and thundering drums abound, while the vocals add plenty of color. Since it doesn’t over-rely on any single element, Testing is primarily an exercise in atmosphere.
While the album’s consistency does lend it a same-y quality, it still contains bright spots. The dramatic sweep of “Clear” features delectable guitar work and a visceral chorus. “Landspeed” is accentuated with martial drum work, and the earnest lyrics of “Forgive Me” make it the most nakedly vulnerable song here. The remainder of the album is no less palatable—there really aren’t any weak tracks—but it falls short of being entirely distinctive. 3 out of 5.
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