CD Shorts


The last few Sigur Ros albums offered diminishing returns on the Icelandic group’s glacially paced orchestral bombast. Anticipation wasn’t exactly running high for lead singer Jonsi’s solo debut, but from the first notes, it’s clear Go offers something different. The compact, catchy “Go Do” mixes propulsive groove, bright orchestration and a choir of nimbly sampled voices. The buoyant and breathless “Animal Arithmetic” finds Jonsi almost rapping a list of ecstatic activities. The melancholy “Sinking Friendships” is leavened with percussive outbursts and a glitchy patchwork of overdubbed vocals. Some credit for sonic detailing goes to composer/ arranger Nico Muhly. It helps that Jonsi occasionally drops his combination of Icelandic and nonsense language for an earthy torrent of English. The last few songs recall Sigur Ros’s dour ballads, as if Jonsi is preparing to rejoin his band. Alas.  —Jeff Jackson

Harper Blynn
Loneliest Generation
(Baby Jackal)

Pete Harper and J. Blynn wear their pop influences on their sleeves. At times their “oooh yeahs” are reminiscent of Lennon and McCartney rocking out between hook-laden choruses, but more often I hear Simon and Garfunkel influencing their musical decisions—pensive harmonies full of breathless nostalgia. While I often consider it weak to review artists only by comparing them to others, it’s a hard trap not to fall into with Harper Blynn. Another reviewer called their sound “timeless,” but I hear it as a pastiche of other people’s sounds. Their songs often start with promise—injecting some kind of catchy squeal of enthusiasm—but they often get muddled and over-complicated with vague lyrics that seem to rely more on a thesaurus than cogent, heartfelt thought. There’s lot’s of youthful angst, similar to Ben Folds Five, but it’s hard to figure out what all the whining is about. —Mark Roessler

Mystery Jets
(Rough Trade)

Indie kids have dads, too. However, it’s the rare rocker who can say his father is part of the band. Singer Blaine Harrison is just such an individual—he can thank guitarist Henry Harrison not only for his birth, but for the creation of his band as well. Already on a third studio album, the two stick faithfully to ’80s roots. Keyboard sounds soar alongside thumping bass lines, and Blaine’s vocals frequently branch into an engaging falsetto. Both acoustic and distorted guitars pop up in the mix, but often take a back seat to the more theatrical moments. For example, the first single, “Flash a Hungry Smile,” builds its hook off whistling as opposed to riffs, and album closer “Lorna Doone” begins with Pink Floyd-esque sound effects before slowly peaking and fading out.  —Michael Cimaomo

Author: Advocate Staff

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