The target audience for this Washington D.C. pop combo doesn't need to be told that Julie Ocean isn't a female solo artist: they already have the Undertones' classic 1981 single of the same name memorized. They're also well familiar with the quartet's previous work, particularly singer/guitarist Jim Spellman's stint in much-beloved alt-popsters Velocity Girl and fellow singer/guitarist Terry Banks' string of cult favorite twee pop acts, including Glo-Worm, the Saturday People and Tree Fort Angst. Happily, Long Gone and Nearly There isn't a throwback, either to the mid-'90s indie pop scene or to '80s U.K. records (like "Julie Ocean" itself) that directly inspired so many of those bands. These ten songs are utterly timeless: the bracing, jangly rush of the barely two-minute opener "Ten Lonely Words" could have been recorded at any point from 1965 onwards. Crucially, however, there is no sense of retro kitsch even on the most overtly backwards-looking tracks here: "#1 Song" and "My Revenge" are pure sweet-tooth power pop, right down to the falsetto harmonies and the fake-out endings, but Julie Ocean are no Flamin' Groovies-style genre copycats. "Here Comes Danny" is so overstuffed with clever turns of lyrical phrase, ear-grabbing production tricks, and good old-fashioned hooks that its five minutes whiz past in a seeming blink, but what's most impressive about Long Gone and Nearly There is that nearly every other track on the album manages the same trick in less than three minutes flat: Julie Ocean understand that brevity is the soul of pop, and that a perfectly constructed two-minute pop song is half as effective at twice the length. When the album's over just barely 25 minutes after it began, the only logical response is to start the whole thing over again. -AMG Buy the album here!