MAJOR STARS: Mirror/Messenger [Drag City]

Listening to the sixth record from Boston’s Major Stars is a little like stumbling across a character-rich old house that’s just been given a fresh coat of paint. You can appreciate the restoration effort, but some of that ragged old charm is inevitably lost. Led by psych veterans Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar, Mirror/Messenger still offers plenty of face-melting guitar workouts consistent with the band’s past fondness for 15-minute epics. But much of the LP is dominated by the brassy, bar-band howl of singer Sandra Barrett, which adds an unexpected and presumably unintentional layer of gloss. This being her second album with the band, Barrett’s vocals mesh well with certain tracks (the sprawling “My People,” the roaring “Can’t End Today”), but it’s sometimes a relief when her contributions are set aside and the band can fire all its engines without having to make room for a classic-rock hook. Mirror/Messenger is more approachable with its shorter track lengths and head-bobbing choruses, but it’s less memorable as well. Progress, you just can’t stop it. []

—Chris Barton