New York band Woods has a formula and sticks to it on Sun And Shade, which revives the jangly lo-fi folk-pop and the squeaky, childlike bleating of singer Jeremy Earl that distinguished 2009’s Songs Of Shame and last year’s At Echo Lake. It’s a strong formula, spiked with wide-eyed wonderment and shaggy camaraderie, and built on a foundation of heart-tugging hooks that linger in the mind like treasured summertime memories. Given how productive Woods has been, releasing albums at a yearly clip alongside EPs and singles, the group’s ability to churn out breezy back-porch strummers like “Hand It Out” and “Who Do I Think I Am?” seems like a given at this point. After initially being saddled with reductive “Guided By Voices meets Grateful Dead” comparisons, Woods arrives at a singular sound on Sun And Shade.
Now the band’s problem might be that it’s too self-referential; Sun And Shade is practically a remake of Woods’ best record, Songs Of Shame, kicking off with three concise guitar songs (highlighted by the dreamy “Be All Be Easy”) before wandering off into the extended, hypnotic jamming of “Out Of The Eye,” just like Shame’s “September With Pete.” (Woods adds the druggy nine-minute “Sol Y Sombra” on the record’s back half for good measure.) While Sun And Shade might feel a bit familiar in places, this return trip to a sonic realm so warm and inviting is similarly pleasing.