Sixteen Deluxe

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It takes a certain amount of gumption to start a debut album with a cover -- and of such a spectacular song as Brian Eno's "Here Come the Warm Jets," at that. But that's what Sixteen Deluxe did, and the distorted guitar abuse evidently proclaimed a love for Kevin Shields as much as Eno, somehow pulling it off into a thrilling, energetic statement of purpose. From there the quartet made its way through a generally strong first full-length effort, with co-vocalist/guitarists Carrie Clark and Chris Smith (aka French Fry) avoiding My Bloody Valentine-style blurry singing in favor of a more direct (in part) singing approach, sometimes with additional psych tweak and distortion. Clark's slightly treated vocals on "Idea" cut strongly through the half-apocalyptic half-shimmering mix, while on "Floor 13" Smith, though understated, is still singing pretty clearly. Plenty of Shields-inspired tremolo-bending guitar dominates the music, as "Fetus," with its beautifully cascading conclusion readily shows. It isn't just Loveless redux by any means, as the foursome favors a rougher edge throughout that also suggests other roots, from the Butthole Surfers' own form of Texas guitar abuse to Big Star, whose majestic melancholia gets beautifully heightened via epic feedback abuse on a version of "Kanga Roo." "Babyheadrush" may have the more expected form of gaze glaze in the feedback, but the strung-out guitar solo cutting through it has older antecedents John Cale or Karl Precoda would appreciate. The rhythm section of Jeff Copas and Bryan Bowden (going by Bryan E. Carlos in a tip of the hat to Cheap Trick) stands out a bit less but has its moments of glory, as in providing a sudden chugging propulsion to "Now" after a howling, amorphous start, then maintaining it on the immediately following "Erotica."

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