Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Album Reviews

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (4/5). Fleet Foxes' 2008 self-titled debut was a lush, layered take on folk meets classic rock that resulted in a rather beautiful sound, particularly on "White Winter Hymnal." This second album finds them in fine form, exploring similar territory with their mix of unusual acoustic instruments and varied styles of yesteryear. "Montezuma" begins the album with frontier-like sounds of guitar and harmonized male vocals. "Bedouin Dress" follows with its quirky violin taking the lead in the melody parade that features all sorts of stringed instruments. Gentle plucky instrumentation contrasts with dramatic strings on "Sim Sala Bim," which later morphs into a guitar jam session worthy of Mumford & Sons. In fact, those who might avoid this thinking it will be dull should check out the lively, sunny title track or dramatic multi-movement composition "The Shrine/An Argument," whose concluding experimental jazz-style horn solo sounds like Radiohead at its Kid A oddest. Hopefully they'll also be enticed by the cinematic beauty of instrumental "The Cascades," as rustic a tune as the title would suggest. Upbeat piano jam "Battery Kinzie" is just as welcome as flower-power love song "Lorelai." Best: Helplessness Blues, Sim Sala Bim, Montezuma, Bedouin Dress.

Moby - Destroyed (2.5/5). Being the world's leading purveyor of sleepy electronica comes with the risk that you might put your audience to sleep, which is what Moby does on his rather bland 10th album, Destroyed. Apparently recorded while on tour during bouts of insomnia, the set recycles the sounds of dreamy synths, old-school dance beats and soul samples Moby has used before. Nothing sounds new and most of it has sounded better before. After the lovely grandeur of 2009's Wait for Me, Destroyed feels uninspired. Best: Be the One, Victoria Lucas.

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