It was going to be tough for Steve Wynn to top 2008’s solo effort Crossing Dragon Bridge, a fascinating hodgepodge of baroque chamber-pop and psychedelic garage-rock mostly written and recorded in Slovenia. A gorgeously sophisticated collection that stood apart from anything else in Wynn’s discography, Dragon Bridge showed the former Dream Syndicate frontman could still make music with nuance and depth, qualities missing from the amped-up, energetic anthems on two previous records with The Miracle 3. Those who hoped Wynn would bring that inventive spirit and boldness back to his band for its third album will be disappointed: Northern Aggression is almost surprising in its straightforwardness. Nothing here is new or challenging for Wynn—no fiddling with song structures or genre experimentation, just by-the-numbers guitar-rock from guys who could make this stuff in their sleep. They’ve been doing this long enough to know how not to fuck it up, and a couple of the songs are pleasingly simple: “Colored Lights” is fueled by driving acid-pop distortion, “The Other Side” is a rollicking throwback to ’80s guitar-and-organ rock, and the downcast “St. Millwood” blends slide guitar and keyboards for a spacious, lonely atmosphere. Wynn has already shown us what he can do when he turns the volume knob and lets ’er rip, but his best music results when he stops and thinks first.