Envelopes

Demon

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In the tradition of recent cross-cultural mash-ups like Architecture in Helsinki or Arcade Fire (or, for the historically minded, 1980s Anglo-French collective Family Fodder), the Swedish group Envelopes mix and match influences from throughout the history of pop for a sound that could conceivably be termed post-postmodernism: not collage for its own sake but simply the default method of working for young musicians for whom the Velvet Underground's churning primitivism, the minimalist twee pop of Young Marble Giants, Pixies' quiet-loud-quiet dynamics, Beck's appropriations of hip-hop, and Stereolab's neo-Krautrock bossa nova electronica are all grist for the mill. Similarities to all of those artists can be found on Demons (heck, the two-minute first single, "It Is the Law," alone bears some comparison to all five!), but these ramshackle songs are their own peculiar beast. The album title is a play on "demos," and the group -- formerly spread between three cities on the European continent but now based in rural Yorkshire -- considers it to be more of a tease for their first proper album than a release by itself, but the naïve charms of the Pavement-like "Sister in Love" or the bouncy indie pop of "My Fern" are utterly delightful in and of themselves. To be fair, co-lead singer Audrey Pic's unique sense of pitch (think of Clare Grogan's needling, hiccuppy vocals on those Altered Images singles from the early '80s) might be a deal-breaker for some more traditionally minded pop fans, but Demons is well worth checking out for those who like a sense of the unexpected in their pop.

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