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When your debut is produced by GRIZZLY BEAR’s CHRIS TAYLOR and TV ON THE RADIO’s KYP MALONE can be heard helping out, it makes people listen. There’s a lo-fi feel despite very clear moments; the production deliberately drifts in and out of focus. One minute the instruments are starkly in-your-face, the next they’re gauzy and shoved to the back. That complements MBAR’s singing, since he usually sounds either like he’s half-asleep or drunk, slurring his words and mumbling or half-shouting. It gives his music a sing-along quality magnified by loose backing vocals.
Song structures are loose as well, allowing for such magical moments as when “Above the Sun” halfway through turns mid-phrase into a harmonium-powered instrumental of delicate beauty. At other times, the band erupts into bursts of ramshackle guitar fury worthy of Neil Young (and “The Ongoing Debate Re: Present Vs. Future” recalls the chord progression of “Words”). All of this supporting/surrounding lyrics of desolate debauchery, anomie, and despair, as though trying to turn “Holocaust” into party music. Intense.
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