Chief, ‘Modern Rituals’ (Domino)
Splitting the difference between the Strokes’ elegant jitters and Rooney’s gooey romanticism, this California quartet features a creamy blend of gorgeous vocal harmonies and shimmering guitar riffs on their full-length debut. Unfortunately, producer Emery Dobyns’ polished surfaces only highlight the mildness of the songs, when a blast of rock’n’roll noise is badly needed. (Itchy drummer Michael Fujikawa, for one, seems poised to create a disturbance if given half a chance.) Modern Rituals feels like an encouraging first draft, waiting for the distinctive touches that would complete it.