Foxes in Fiction — ‘Trillium Killer’
THE GOOD: Canadian-born, New York-based producer/musician Warren Hildebrand (stage name Foxes in Fiction) gives us his third.
THE BAD: You have to be in the right mood for “Trillium Killer.” Very low-key, it’s an album that will have you dozing if you listen while driving.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Turn the lights down, switch on and drift. “Trillium” is a wispy, haunting record that finds Hildebrand’s hushed and affected vocals floating atop delicate guitars, swirling synths and beats just loud enough to tap time. A dream pop/electronic hybrid, the record recalls vintage Air while reminding us about Beach House.
A certain sameness takes over the record about four tracks in, but maybe that’s the point. Hildebrand once called Foxes “healing music.” It’s not supposed to get in your face. Individual tracks don’t need their own identity to be powerful. “Trillium” melts into the background, but this isn’t new age fluff. Hildebrand writes a good melody and THEN buries it in mist.
BUY IT?: Your choice.
Echosmith — ‘Lonely Generation’
THE GOOD: California indie pop trio Echosmith (comprised of the Sierota siblings) dodges the sophomore slump.
THE BAD: Timing. The group’s signature tune, “Cool Kids,” was a huge song six years ago; its debut album came out almost seven years ago. Does the fickle pop public even care about Echosmith at this point?
THE NITTY GRITTY: Hopefully they DO, because “Lonely Generation,” while not a game changer, is still a pretty decent and slick pop/rock collection. Sydney Sierota remains an engaging frontwoman, her voice distinct, powerful and flirtatious all at once. Her brothers in the background weave instrumental bits where whirring synths and bright guitars mesh over seamless backbeats.
Tracks such as the title cut and “Shut Up and Kiss Me” sneak up from behind, hit you with their hooks and harmonies, and leave you craving more. The only real drawback here is that the band could be playing it too safely. There isn’t a lot of progression between 2013’s “Talking Dreams” and the new album. Echosmith should spread its musical wings.
BUY IT?: Your call.
Polica — ‘When We Stay Alive’
THE GOOD: Minneapolis synthpop outfit Polica returns with a reserved fifth.
THE BAD: “Alive” almost seems too calculated and too sterile in spots.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Lead vocalist Channy Leaneagh suffered a bizarre accident (she fell off her roof) that left her recuperating for months. During that time, she took stock in everything, and much of the record’s lyrical content comes from Leaneagh’s reflections.
So, the album ends up a more serious and emotionally charged affair than past collections. But that means “Alive” should make for far more interesting listening than it actually does. The boys in the back keep the music underneath silky smooth and unobtrusive. Liquid beats and basslines and delicate synths rule the day.
The combination works, with Leaneagh’s melodies coolly blending with the tempered rhythms. However, long-time fans may clamor for at least some of the brighter colors or buzzing aggressions from past albums. In electronic pop terms, “Alive” could use a little more banging Metric and a little less somber Banks.
BUY IT?: Still … yes.