Sonic Reducer

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This album is a sugary cereal with 12 essential vitamins and minerals. Goofy, impulsive offerings that bounce from funk to hippie jams to sunshine-folk never stop to ask for directions, instead reveling in getting lost. Simultaneously inviting and subtly complex, Dark Days/Light Years loads up on effects pedals without flooding song structures or hiding musicianship. This record is more experimental than Super Furry Animals’ most recent releases, and it’s good to see the band’s side projects haven’t sucked out all its creative juices. Every track drips with inspiration. (SM)

Ex Norwegian Standby (Dying Van Gogh Records)

Standby is a love letter to a slew of different genres. Alternative, grunge, geek-rock, new wave and dance-punk all receive tributes, often in the same compact song. There’s some incongruities that come as a result of the style smashups, but while there’s no underlying theme, the album doesn’t sound disjointed. If you’re not listening for the next genre reference, it’s easy to lay back and simply hum the choruses or spin around to the melodies. The influences are there, but one needn’t be fully aware of them to get the most out of Standby . (SM)

Grizzly Bear Veckatimest (Warp Records)

The best Grizzly Bear album yet. The songs on this third LP from Brooklyn’s preeminent peddlers of psychedelic folk are prettier, more sophisticated and more eerily dynamic than previous releases. Veckatimest , titled after a small Massachusetts island, contains nary a lemon (I have very tender feelings for reverb/vibrato/echo-laden "Ready" and "While You Wait For The Others"). It’s fine for morning, noon, evening or midnight listening, alone or with the company of others. (JCC)

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