Minibar continue to stake out their niche of respectable, but not astounding, roots rock on their second release Fly Below the Radar
. Much was made of the group's faux-Americana feel in its initial press coverage, but although this does have definite folk-rock, country, and West Coast harmony influences, it's not as simple as a British band trying to play American. They play tuneful rock that has pop appeal without selling out, Simon Petty
's breathy, slightly scratchy vocals projecting an inviting, world-weary, reflective warmth. Echoes of bands like R.E.M
. and, reaching further back, the Byrds
and late-'60s/early-'70s Brit-pop can be heard in addition to the more contemporary alt-folk-rock factors. There are varied accents like the brooding Spanish melodics in "New Mexico," the fairground instruments on the fade of the lilting "Unstoppable," and the ethereal country tinge of "Breathe Easy" and "Martha." There's an even-keeled feel of containment to the proceedings, though, that makes this more modestly likable than striking.