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Album Review: Love Letters by Metronomy

The first three albums released by Metronomy saw the band characterized by an inability to stick to one sound and genre. Their fourth album saw the outfit put their stylistic inconsistencies behind them to deliver Love Letters, an album that adheres to a reliably coherent, though sometimes narrow, strain of pop-rock minimalism.

Love Letters consists of careful arrangements that sparingly place Baroque harpsichord melodies, surf-rock organ splashes, and doo-wop backing vocals along a ten song axis with machine-like precision. Staying true to their name, Metronomy’s rhythm section churns out a monotonous pulse that can be aptly described as metronomic, accentuated by two-bit drum machines and on-the-nose auxiliary percussion.

Metronomy are at their best when vulnerabilities are exposed, as in the album’s opener, “The Upsetter,” where vocalist Joseph Mount strains a precarious falsetto that teeters on the verge of cracking. It’s a breath of fresh air on a record that is desperately short on soul. Love Letters is comprised of lyrical odes to romances that have lost their edge; it’s a shame the arrangements are suitably dull.

Album Review: Winter by Vancouver Sleep Clinic

Under the pseudonym Vancouver Sleep Clinic, Tim Bettinson has just released his EP, Winter. I recently discovered his cover of Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home.” That is where I began seriously enjoying Bettinson’s music. The Brisbane-based artist still amazes me by being only 17 years old.

Vancouver Sleep Clinic sounds like the electronic reincarnation of Bon Iver or Sigur Rós. Bettinson combines haunting vocals and captivating ambient melodies. The track “Stakes” is the most mature and well-constructed song on the EP, making it one of the highlights. Other tracks like “Flaws” and “Collapse” are extremely catchy and entrancing.

Winter is soothing, and sounds like something that would be played at, well, a Vancouver sleep clinic. Winter is a must listen if you enjoy this particular strain of ambient electronic music.

Album Review: Awake by Tycho

Tycho, also known as Scott Hansen, has released his fourth full length album, Awake. Since 2011’s Dive, Hansen has clearly been developing his craft of complex guitar lines and a soothing aesthetic. His music does not fail to bring forth feelings of nostalgia and comfort.

Highlights include “Awake,” a promising and up-beat opening to the album, and “Montana” an excellent example of his complexity. Though the album is slightly underwhelming, it is still not one to disregard. With his graphic design experience clear in the aesthetic and image-provoking quality of the album, complexity and extreme attention to detail separates his style from others in the genre including Boards of Canada, Shigeto, and Gold Panda. All in all, his synesthetic album is a solid follow-up to Dive.

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