Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Memory Tapes - Player Piano

01. Musicbox (in)
02. Wait In The Dark
03. Today Is Our Life
04. Yes I Know
05. Offers
06. Humming
07. Sun Hits
08. Worries
09. Fell Thru Ice
10. Fell Thru Ice II
11. Trance Sisters
12. Musicbox (out)

Memory Tapes’ Seek Magic was an excellent debut album. There was rave abetted by a bicycle pump (on, yes, Bicycle); drowsily amorous funk on Green Knight; and the calming chillwave ebb and flow of Run Out. Listeners could even forgive the fact that the man behind it, Dayve Hawk, spells his forename with a superfluous "y". His second album, Player Piano, suffers from an appalling punning title but does contain a few terrific songs, even if it can’t quite compare with Hawke’s first effort.

Three absolutely outstanding tracks overshadow the rest. Wait in the Dark is a perfect, simple psychedelic nursery rhyme, half Empire of the Sun, half Craft Spells. It’s full of terrific elliptical lyrics like, "This is it, don’t make me wait / Save it up for tomorrow and say it’s too late." Today Is Our Life is much the same, albeit with a seemingly incongruous (but great) guitar solo and a contemplative-but-arms-aloft synth outro. Sunhits continues the less-is-more manifesto and has all the necessary beats and chiming riffs of an instant summer classic. Collectively, the three songs sound as beautiful as the revelation that a secret love is elatedly requited.

Meanwhile, the rest of the album is only decent. Amid martial drumming Yes I Know hints at Kate Bush and Joy Division, but lands at Bat for Lashes and Interpol. Offers is a sleaze-free alt-Chromeo with snake-charming melodies and an air of mystery. The intriguing Worries sounds like Yeasayer mugging Vampire Weekend for their African beats and the regency air of The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance; while Fell Thru Ice has the glacial (sorry) feel of Silent Alarm-era Bloc Party.

Aside from the best three tunes, then, Player Piano is a musical jacket potato: satisfying but never amazing. For a more consistently excellent 2011 album of simple, affecting US alt-fare, check out Love Inks’ E.S.P. or the aforementioned Craft Spells...www.bbc.co.uk

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