It's a rare and beautiful thing when bands tapping into the guitar-pop nexus of the Four B's (Beach Boys, Beatles, Big Star, Byrds) actually achieve the liftoff of their forebears. And few have soared higher in the past decade than Ivy on 1997's "Apartment Life," which chased jet-fueled bursts of guitaristic exuberance with gracefully pensive balladry.
Even with the addition of moody trip-hop synths, "Long Distance" doesn't approach "Apartment"'s contact high. But Ivy's more subdued approach is appropriate -- after all, you'd probably sound worn out, too, if your band had spent the last four years in label hell. Still, brightness glints through the dolorous surfaces.