Sound: A sparse and icy version of electro dance pop and ‘80s-esque, new wave rock. Synth melodies are scarce and guitar riffs are even scarcer as percussion and melodic voices propel most of the tracks. The rhythm-and-hook-heavy album incorporates a variety of claps and clinks to help create its stark but buoyant atmospheres.
Heavy Rotation tracks: “Living Thing”; “It Don’t Move Me”; “Nothing to Worry About”
Medium Rotation tracks: “Stay This Way”; “Just the Past”; “Lay It Down”
Recommended: For a band known best for their snappy pop and whistling (thanks to 2007’s ubiquitous “Young Folks”), you have to commend them for branching out into bolder, darker territory. There are actually more catchy tunes on here than their last album Writer’s Block, so they haven’t taken a step towards the inaccessible. But they do challenge your ears in satisfying new ways. Fans of Depeche Mode, New Order, Naked Eyes, Pet Shop Boys and the simplicity of the production on Kanye West’s latest, 808’s & Heartbreak, should find plenty to like on here. Too bad the last four tracks are significantly inferior to the first ten.
Grade: B+ (First 10 tracks = solid A-)