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Alternative & Indie - Released April 30, 2021 | Modular Fontana

The limpid lysergic swirls and squalling fuzz-toned riffs that populate Tame Impala's debut clearly owe a hefty, heartfelt debt to the hazy churn of late-'60s/early-'70s psych rock, but the members of this Perth threesome are hardly strict revivalists. In comparison to their similarly inspired contemporaries, they chart a course somewhere between Dungen's lovingly meticulous replication of their chosen style and Malachai's deconstructive, electronically enabled pastiche of same, deftly skirting the potential for parodic excess that comes with either extreme. Balancing an obvious reverence for their sonic forebears with subtly contemporary production tweaks, they make straddling two disparate eras feel like the most comfortable, effortless thing in the world. And that sense of unforced, unpretentious ease is fundamental to what makes Innerspeaker so simply, viscerally pleasurable: there's so much that Tame Impala get so wonderfully right here -- a distinct but understated undercurrent of melody, a relaxed but ever-present sense of groove, a crystal crispness and deliberateness to the sound even when it's treated with a healthy dousing of buzz and reverb -- without seeming like they're trying at all hard. Despite a classic power trio configuration and relatively limited use of overdubbing, the album frequently feels so sonically massive, so thick with ringing guitars, walls of effects, and tremendous, reverberating drums, that it's hard to believe it's the work of a mere threesome. Kudos are perhaps in order to neo-psych mainstay Dave Fridmann, who mans the mixing boards here with a relish and restraint that helps make this one of the most tasteful (and tasty) records on his recent résumé. Credit frontman Kevin Parker's lazily drawled, remarkably Lennon-esque vocals, too, (frequently Leslie'd or otherwise processed, which helps) with giving the album an extra air of free-floating authenticity (while only occasionally giving up anything as specific and tangible as a substantially intelligible lyric). It's only infrequently that individual songs manage to stand out from the surrounding fluid, atmospheric haze -- typically when the band decides to leave its hooks a bit of space to breathe, as on the chunky, chugging closer "I Don't Really Mind" or the crisp, snakily phased guitar lick cementing the deliciously poppy "Solitude Is Bliss." But the dearth of standout tracks here hardly feels like an issue -- indeed, Innerspeaker coasts so beautifully on its blissful, billowing waves of sound that readily discernible hooks almost seem like gratuitous distractions. © K. Ross Hoffman /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | Modular Fontana

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2010 | Modular Fontana

ceo is Eric Berglund, one half of the Tough Alliance and co-CEO of Gothenburg's Sincerely Yours label; his first solo venture is another clear winner from that inscrutable but highly dependable camp. While its brightly colorful melting pot of indie pop, ersatz tropicalia, chintzy new age, and electronic dance-pop doesn't stray far from the distinctive, neon-hued sound of TTA, White Magic feels tighter, lusher, and more polished (especially vocally) than most of the duo's output, with an earnest, romantic emotional outlook far from TTA's typically enigmatic, performative sneering. Berglund wastes no time announcing his ambitions here, starting with the swaying orchestral expanse of "All Around," over which he declares: "I'm coming home to face the demons on my own." It's a grand opening statement, but it's only one part of the ceo equation: alongside weightier material like the ruminative "Oh God Oh Dear" and a solemn, churchy rendition of "Den Blomstertid Nu Kommer" (a hymnlike ode to summertime that's traditionally sung at the close of the Swedish school year) that ends the album with the same string figures that opened it, the balance of White Magic's eight tracks consists of cheerfully melodic dance-pop. "Illuminata" and "Love and Do What You Will," in particular, are about as buoyant as they come, and "Come with Me" is widescreen Balearic pop at its glistening, tuneful best. The title track shades slightly darker, with its vaguely sinister, pulsing tribal techno punctuated by jungle noises, steely guitar flourishes, and percolating pan flutes, while TTA's recurrent hip-hop-inflected fascination with violence rears its head on the otherwise blithe-sounding "No Mercy" with an excellently deployed knife-sharpening sample (the song also features offhand lyrical references to bondage, incarceration, and smoking crack). Without shortchanging Berglund's melodic abilities and his knack for sharp, effective mood juxtapositions, ceo's greatest attribute is his fearlessly inventive, highly detailed approach to arrangement, bringing together an unpredictable assortment of sounds on nearly every track, and somehow making these largely synthetic productions feel dynamic and vibrantly alive. Phil Spector and Brian Wilson come to mind -- the baroque strings and clip-clop percussion of "Oh God Oh Dear," specifically, suggest discreet nods to each -- and, indeed, pace Wilson, the whole affair might be aptly summed up as a "quarter-life symphony to God." At under 30 minutes, White Magic could feel painfully brief, but it's so dense with creativity, melody, and life that it seems churlish to want more. © K. Ross Hoffman /TiVo