The Fresh & Onlys at DC9 Thursday, July 24

Last month, a writer for Consequence of Sound argued that House of Spirits, the latest album from San Francisco’s Fresh & Onlys, was “the band’s descent into turmoil, its hero’s journey,” but one that “no one asked them to embark on”—a tortured, dulled betrayal of the band’s earlier verve. That inspired Fresh & Onlys leader Tim Cohen to pen a 1,300-word essay on what fans expect from artists and what artists owe them. “Don’t think for a second that this album, which represents many lifetimes worth of strange and mundane experiences alike, needed yours or anyone else’s permission to enter the world,” he wrote. Cohen was right, of course; artists don’t owe us anything. But House of Spirits stills presents a conundrum to fans. It represents both a linear progression for the band—from delirious garage rock and acid-touched psych pop to New Romantic moongazing and its crooning current incarnation—and a sharp detour, a distressed, occasionally maudlin record from a band whose members weathered big life changes following their last LP. “Who let the devil walk into my house?” Cohen pleads in one song, and for the first time in his career, the supernatural allusion leaves you a little worried. One thing that’s comforting, at least: Even when they struggle, the Fresh & Onlys struggle interestingly. Which is all fans should ever ask them to do. The Fresh & Onlys perform with the Shilohs at 8:30 p.m. at DC9, 1940 9th St. NW. $12-$14. (202) 483-5000.

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