On their self-titled Captured Tracks debut, Portland's Blouse serve up electronic pop that's equally sparkling and dark, yet considerably lighter-feeling than the label's usual fare. However, this distinction doesn't make their music distinctive; Blouse's mix of dreamy-then-abrasive electronics and detached female vocals has been mastered by forebears and contemporaries like Broadcast, Beach House, and To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie. This isn't to say that the trio has nothing to offer; “Firestarter” opens Blouse with shimmeringly aloof pop that showcases Charlie Hilton's chilled coo to perfection, while “Into Black” adds a strange intimacy and depth to its nostalgia that makes it all the more compelling. Too often, though, Blouse sounds subdued, as though the band is still figuring out how all of its sounds and ideas should work together. Songs such as “They Always Fly Away” and “White” feel like they should be just a touch darker to really make an impact, and Hilton occasionally swallows potentially dramatic lyrics like “you could learn to love the controller.” When Blouse make a decisive statement, they shine: “Videotapes” boasts woozy synths that sound like they're set at the wrong tracking speed, the perfect flourish to set off Hilton's hazy recollections; and “Roses” finds Blouse crafting their version of a power ballad complete with anthemic choruses. Taken as a whole, Blouse is a more promising debut than a satisfying one, but its standout moments leave listeners wanting more.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares