9/10 Brian Staff review, 09 September 2010
Feel privileged to be reviewing the new album by these NY pop classicists. Once unfairly derided as some sort of Sonic Youth hanger-on/rip-off outfit, they've gradually metamorphosed over the past 15 years into a fine atmospheric progressive pop band, albeit one with left-field aspirations & integrity. I missed their last album, heard a couple of singles & rather liked them, but this is another transition yet again. With much more emphasis on crystalline electronics & downtempo moods, they're sounding much more exotic & European these days. Considering none of them ancestrally stem from the States they've every right to take flight from the somewhat limiting aspects of the US rock underground. Many songs fit nicely into the legendary 4AD mould of ethereal, spectral post-Cocteaus beauty without particularly sounding like the much loved Scots 3 piece. They've just got THAT magic essence. The beloved vocal stylings of Kazu Mazino are still largely to the forefront of many songs but the guitar & drums minimalism of yore is often eschewed in favour of rich, sensual electronic textures imbued with an air of melancholy & mystique. I can hear how maybe fans of more downbeat Teutonic music such as Lali Puna or the more reflective output of Glass Candy would warm to this album. 'Love or Prison' is a wonderful example of this. That distinctive near Caribbean guitar skank they've virtually trademarked DOES appear in earnest on 'Oslo' but once again, a song that sounds like an outtake from '...Damaged Lemons' is given a loving rub with some discreet electronic atmospherics and subtle sonic beatery. Showing kids like Warpaint they're never gonna be abandoned in the wilderness of the 00's, this is a masterclass in how to grow older with dignity & stay relevant & innovative. Ace!
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