Pia Fraus

After Summer

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Centered on lead vocalists Rein Fuks and Eve Komp, Estonian band Pia Fraus are often referred to as neo-shoegaze, and in that sense do bring to mind the blissful and buried harmonies of My Bloody Valentine and Stereolab. Featuring warm production from the sympathetically minded Norman Blake of Scotland's Teenage Fanclub, 2008's After Summer finds the band reaching for a bit more studio sheen than on previous efforts. Which isn't to say they've sacrificed any of the lo-fi charm and blue-sky energy of their previous work; on the contrary, Blake's pop craftsmanship is a perfect fit for similarly inclined Pia Fraus, and the result is an organic, exquisite little daydream of an album. Poppy but off-kilter, Pia Fraus never sacrifice a great song for sheer noise. Instead, they make room for waves of fuzzy guitar, percolating keyboards, and little nibbles of percussion throughout. In that sense, they aren't as mannered and predictable as some of their indie pop contemporaries, and evince a supple balance between their trippier, more avant-garde leanings, and their obvious knack for crafting melodic sugar rush melodies. From the shimmering album opener "Springsister" to the rippling Theremin-sounding affirmation of "Sailing Yes" and the woozily romantic "Doctor Optimism," these are the sorts of songs that teenage dreams live and die on.

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