Bands come and go, even the biggest. So when a little band you love is together for little over year and then goes quiet after recording next to nothing without even getting to the point of trying to break out of the local scene, it’s almost certain you should kiss them goodbye.

What an unexpected pleasure, then, to say hello again to Miniature Houses, which is being rebuilt after two-and-a-half years lost in the rubble of time.

If you don’t know, Miniature Houses houses the lushly quiet vocal tones of Michael Wysong and Lili De La Mora in songs that almost inevitably evoke a haunted, haunting wistfulness. The reconstituted Miniature Houses has a lot to live up to, considering that their original rhythm section of Andrew Pompey (drums) and Familiar Trees’ Davin Givhan (bass) were a perfect rhythm section for the Wysong/De La Mora aesthetic. Their first-ever live performance—which the lucky bastards got to give in the upstairs gallery at the Long Beach Museum of Art at the July 2010 After Dark event—was an impossibly good debut, each song separated by 30 seconds of applause from an audience who knew we were experiencing something special. Later shows (few as they were) kept the bar high, incorporating the likes of Greater California’s Terry Prine on keyboard and oto’s Tai Tajima on percussion.

But Miniature Houses is truly back. While the lineup for Thursday’s show at the wine bar dubiously named “the Wine Bar” was provisional, they didn’t skimp on the provisions. The Hawkline Monster’s Michael Vitale joined Wysong on guitar, while Karl?’s (and sometime MOVEr) Michael Malinowski handled the drumming with his usual “I’m not going to let my technical skill trump my tastefulness” thing. De La Mora’s beau Aaron Archambault, who I had no idea played bass, played bass beautifully. And Alyssandra Nighswonger, who you’d admit is good even if you hated her (but you totally don’t), seamlessly blended her unique voice with Wysong’s and De La Mora’s. Playing keys like he’d been with Miniature Houses since the all too brief old days was Ken Negrete, who was with Miniature Houses in those old days, handling sound for their LBMA After Dark show.

The band opened with two songs I remember from their first go-round. I’m not the guy who’s always using his iPhone to document what’s going on around him, but as soon as “There’s a Ghost in This House” started, I felt you needed to hear what was happening, so check it out here. Next up was “Big Dive”, one of the only things the original lineup did record (turning out one of the very best tracks to come out of Long Beach). “People say I’m the quiet type / But I say I’ll talk when I wanna talk,” Wysong and De La Mora sing, a perfect sentiment for this perfect band. “Big Dive” is four-and-a-half minutes of unassuming beauty that opens with a soft and pretty sunrise, goes for an early afternoon stroll, enjoys a quaint pause, then glides into a soft burst of simple, lushly understated glory. It sounded just about as good as I remember.

Then came two songs that were new to my ears, one of which had to compete with some real obnoxiousness from a drunken woman sitting ten feet from the band and one foot from her companion but talking loudly enough to be heard not just over the band and outside. Granted, Miniature Houses ain’t loud, but ain’t that a pretty good reason not to yell while they’re playing? Nonetheless, if you heard a recording of the band with her blowsy prating filtered out, you wouldn’t know such a distraction was part of the room. Thankfully, she shut her hole just in time for “French Milk”, which someone needs to get me a recording of, stat, because it’s totally uncool to be obsessed with a song you don’t have access to.

The Long Beach music scene is full of fine bands, but there’s always room for more. The only downside of Miniature Houses’ return is that it raises the bar in the way a new student makes it harder on her curve-graded classmate when she walks into the lecture hall and scores a 96 on her first exam. That’s not actually a downside, of course. Bands who can’t do whatever it is they do like Miniature Houses does what it does should relocate to Irvine. The Long Beach scene is high and should aim higher still, and Miniature Houses (follow them on Facebook) fits right in. Welcome home.