THE DEAL: Chick from Mountain Man teams up with even more Bennington grads; this time it's actually interesting.
THE GOOD: Recorded in off-the-grid isolation in Massachusetts' outback, you'd expect any project with links to that much forest and the gals of Mountain Man to tilt toward over-earnest folk-acana. But from the luminescent synth-and-voice choruses of the seven-minute opener "We Saw" and tribal thrum of "Groggy," to the blue-eyed soul touches in "Ginger (Water Birth)" and polyphonic chants of "The Shed," the bucolic isolation instead fostered stunning organic/digital hybrids. Unfurling at unhurried tempos, these 12 songs thrive on a-sextet-creating-music-tension coursing just beneath their surfaces; Bobby's "chill" definitely cuts both ways. The music shows up like vapor mantled in melodic fleece: intricate guitar layers, keyboard and synth textures eddying into the ether, muffled beats and cymbal splashes, and melancholic boy-girl birdsong. It's the latter — Molly Sarle's coo playing off Tom Greenberg's comforting tenor — that takes these songs to another level. Somehow the aggregate recalls both the open spaces and clarity of, say, a Sea & Cake record and the dense stoned glaze of a Spiritualized suite. While we're name-dropping, you can cite any number of additional influences and sounds-likes along the way: Espers, School of Seven Bells, Brightblack Morning Light, American Analog Set, Cyann & Ben, even Panda Bear's more ambient moments.
THE BAD: Your band name is dumb. Or lazy. Probably both.
THE VERDICT: More, please.