Quaint, upbeat and starkly sparse is the 11-track record Harlequin, crafted by Los Angeles' Alex Izenberg - including the jittery plinky-plonk piano led lead single To Move On, which boasts a composition stripped back to the bone alongside chirpy falsetto. Izenberg immerses himself in his typically vivid imagination, in what becomes a romantic and easy-listen offering.
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Who is this man?
I dunno but I suspect he's been listening to a lot of Robert Wyatt and a lot of Plush from the sounds of the opening tracks here. He blends a quivering reedy voice with hesitant orchestral compositions that disarm through their very fragility. 'Grace' boasts a lovely Beatles-esque chorus which sounds constantly on the verge of falling apart. You are kind of willing him to get through it but when he introduces a vocoder then you kind of wish you hadn't.
I'm constantly reminded of some kind of cross breed between Van Dyke Parks, Arthur Russell and Dirty Projectors. Izenberg blends various elements most notably lovely viola and cello playing into songs that have something of the musical theatre about them. The spectre of Grizzly Bear haunts 'Hot Is The Fire' which promises much but lacks a killer melody to transport it into the stratosphere where 'Changes' begins like some Paul Simon experiment before lurching into an improbable oompah chorus. Possible future album highlight 'To Move On' tries almost the same trick - this time the chorus sounds like Al Green on helium and is both ridiculous and catchy.
The weird thing about the album is that it's oddball and unique yet as I suggested earlier it's easy to tell exactly what he's been listening to. To sum up imagine a one man Grizzly Bear playing around with some serious early 70s pop picks and you are getting close.
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