Dirty Glow

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Nate Brenner's side/solo project's debut in 2012 came preloaded with expectations thanks to his work as the bassist for tUnE-yArDs -- at the least, initial feelings were inevitably shaped by the divisive reaction to that group. It makes sense that the fragmentary Dirty Glow took its bow on the Plug Research label, but Naytronix occupies a space where it's hard to say at any point whether the cryptic, choppy performances and compositions are intentionally hard to get ahold of or just simply not quite working. By no means is the album flat-out unlistenable -- in fact, it's precisely because it's so engaging at moments that Dirty Glow as a whole becomes so frustrating in turn. The opening "Hangin Out" alone deserves credit for sounding less like the thousandth late-'60s Beach Boys nod and more like a descendant of the High Llamas' own distinct take on that form, perhaps aimed for chillwavers more than anything. "Robotic" is another keeper, one of the moments on the album where everything comes together as a full performance. But too much sounds like reasonably well-done demos with random-at-best vocal performances, neither fish nor fowl. There's something gelling on Dirty Glow that almost matches the album title itself, but it's just not quite there yet.

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