By M. Brianna Stallings
How must it feel to work on a creative endeavor with your recent ex? Excoriating? Cathartic? Poignant? When it comes to break-up album Static from dream-pop twosome Cults, the answer is all of the above. If lead singer Madeline Follin ever said, “Julee Cruise is my spirit animal,” I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. Like Cruise, Follin’s wistful crystalline soprano pierces through a dense, foggy wash of guitars, courtesy of Brian Oblivion. “Always Forever” is bittersweet, while the claws come out on their duet, “Were Before.” Still, Static is less toothsome than classics like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours or Shoot Out The Lights from Richard and Linda Thompson. That doesn’t make the heartache any less heartfelt.
Uncanney Valley, the Dismemberment Plan’s first album in a dozen years, is like a sack full of Everlasting Gobstoppers. Each song transforms so that, by the time you’ve melted away its layers, it’s altogether different than when it started. Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink opener “No One's Saying Nothing” is crammed with sleigh bells, wah-wah guitar wails and carnival-esque keyboards. Plus who can resist lead vocalist Travis Morrison singing, “You hit the spacebar enough and cocaine comes out. I really like this computer!” The exquisite string loops that begin “Invisible” bring maturity, while “Daddy Was A Real Good Dancer” looks at who parents were, pre-kids. Mix math rock percussion with '70s AM radio vocals, and this is the result: the definition of aging gracefully in indie rock.
Some kids fall asleep cuddling teddy bears. I imagine that velvet-voiced Channy Leaneagh, lead singer of Poliça, fell asleep holding a copy of The Human League's Dare! Translation? Lazy pundits may try to pin the indie rock badge on this Minneapolis band, but they ain't fooling me. I know synthpop when I hear it; Poliça’s sophomore release, Shulamith, does it right. Synthmaster Ryan Olson, bassist Chris Bierden and drummers Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu join Leaneagh on these 12 languid tunes. “Very Cruel” is perfect for sexy dance floor times, while Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon lends vocals to a resigned “Tiff.” Meanwhile “So Leave” sees the light at the end of the just-dumped tunnel, complete with radiant cymbals. Shulamith sounds like a Midwestern summer night: humid, hard-won and anticipating the chillout.
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