January 27, 2020

Silversun Pickups– Swoon – Dangerbird

By Kristi Kates | Oct. 27, 2018

At times you might think you’ve stumbled across some long-hidden Billy Corgan/Smashing Pumpkins track — but it’s just Silversun Pickups bringing that grungy, distorted-guitars ’90s sound into the modern age. With Dave Cooley again behind the boards, opener “There’s No Secrets This Year” upscales the band’s propellant sound (arguably better than first official single “Panic Switch”), while other highlights include the edgy “Sort Of” and the college-trend throwback-pop sounds of “Surrounded.” ***

Villagers – The Art of Pretending to Swim– Domino
Written and produced by Villagers’ Conor O’Brien in his own studio in Dublin, Ireland, the five-piece outfit (including O’Brien, of course) throw off those lifejackets on this collection and plunge right in to some sounds that are quite different from their last album. Jittery and impatient but with an appeal showcasing their enthusiasm for these experiments, the tracklisting veers heavily towards synths and away from guitars on standouts like “A Trick of the Light,” the interlocked harmonies of “Long Time Waiting,” and the EDM/dance-inspired opener, “Again.” *** ½
Metric – Art of Doubt– BMG
Guitars, guitars, guitars. Did we mention there are a few guitars? Metric leans heavily on them for this set, spreading them thick like buttahunderneath its signature vox. On tracks like “Love You Back,” the vocals are an icy glaze atop those guitars; tunes like “Holding Out” and the churning “Dark Saturday” encapsulate the band’s more rock side. And the interesting blender mashup of sounds reminiscent of both ’70s prog-rock and vintage sci-fi television show themes is a don’t miss on “Now or Never Now.” ***
St. Lucia –Hyperion– Columbia
Contrasts are the order of the day on St. Lucia’s latest. With every other track on this set, the band seems to have taken a completely different approach — thought it’s a mystery whether the track-listing is randomized or part of a genius plan. Eleven new tunes in all are included here. The first single, “Paradise is Waiting,” a huge monster of a melody, with vocal performance to match, sounds like it could be one of St. Lucia’s most crowd-ready numbers yet. By contrast, “A Brighter Love” and “Last Dance” are subtle and thoughtful, with fragile synth lines and cautious arrangements. The disparities are what make this album so interesting to listen to. ***


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