- by Steve Ricciutti Release Date:2017-02-10 Label: Shelflife
Often compared to Seattle-based The Postal Service, French electronica group M83, and/or Sweden’s The Radio Dept., Letting Up Despite Great Faults touch on all the shoegaze/dream pop bases; synth heavy, breathy vocals, chiming guitars, and electronic drum sounds. The band has been together for thirteen years in various incarnations, but Angeleno Mike Lee realized the band in 2004 and continues to helm. They’ve released three full-length albums and this, their fifth EP Alexander Devotion.
Four songs in all, Alexander Devotion is thirteen minutes of breezy synth-bliss; a swirl of indie pop that is so irresistibly stuck in their 80s groove, that it’s almost too easy to gloss over the flashes of depth I get from the airy vocals. In fact, if there’s one big complaint, it’s that the vocals are mixed too low. Opener “Starlet,” (for which they made an achingly cute video, as well) undercuts the light with some dark lyrics from unofficial member Annah Fisette, “You say you’re okay, but you’re broken.”
“Pageantry” continues the theme as the guitars, keys, and God-knows what else flutter around the plastic beat of the electronic drums while Lee’s vocals get lost in the vortex. “Armonica” hints at a fractured relationship while musically tilting towards ambient. The oddest number is “Mass,” a rather generic synth-pop instrumental, something I haven’t considered since Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit.” Carried along by the wave of mind-numbing groove, “Mass” seems like an extended bridge rather than a finished song, and is a wasted offering on a four-cut EP.
Alexander Devotion is amiable, relaxing background noise that may even turn your frown upside down or ease you out of a rough day. To that end, think of it as musical Oxycontin. On the other hand, there’s nothing here that will grab you and bash you about in the way we often need music to do, thus nothing to compel you toward repeated listens. Unless, of course, you’re Rush Limbaugh.