Ear Pwr - Ear Pwr - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Ear Pwr - Ear Pwr

by Rich Morris Rating:7 Release Date:2011-05-30

North Carolinian electronic duo Ear Pwr are back with this self-titled second album. As before, they trade primarily in soft, coy, slightly retro synth sounds wrapped around shy, adolescent sounding female vocals. So far, so Knife. However, Ear Pwr does mark a step forward, with more sophisticated and daring musical experiments. This is especially noticeable on the pounding, tumbling drums of 'National Parks' and the excellent, mildly unhinged 'Baby Houses'. Such diversity certainly helps Ear Pwr stand out from the kooky synth-pop crowd, pitching their sound further toward such latter-day indie titans as Animal Collective and Yeasayer.

Elsewhere, 'Gypsy Blood' has a terrible title but a decent, chunky rhythm and some interesting, almost proggy elements; 'Melt' and 'Feel It' manage to mix unconventional dynamics with a memorable pop choruses; and the duo show genuine flair on the surprisingly muscular instrumental 'Geodes'. However, Sarah Reynolds elfin vocals are still just a little too fey and insubstantial to get the job done on some tracks, relegating what should be beautiful moments to mere mood music.

It's tempting to see the band's relocation from Baltimore to the mountains of their native North Carolina as inspiration for their more expansive, powerful sound, and song titles such as 'Mountain Home' and, most obviously, 'North Carolina', seem to confirm this. However, Ear Pwr's music is, at heart, still twee and a little cutesy, as confirmed by the album's sing-song closer 'You're Life is Important'. It's just that their innate folksiness now seems less like a hipster boho pose and more a artistic reflection of where they're at. And, at it's best, that makes Ear Pwr and enchanting listen.

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