Craft Spells


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Craft Spells' debut album, Idle Labor, was a very well-done blend of New Order-style synth pop and fragile Sarah Records-influenced indie pop. Along with the pitch-perfect sound the group created, songwriter Justin Paul Vallesteros crafted songs that didn't quite match up to the work of his inspirations, but weren't a million miles away either. The group's follow-up EP treads nearly the same stylistic path as the debut. The songs are alternately dancefloor peppy and late-night gloomy, and sometimes a magical confluence of both. Vallesteros sounds slightly more assured as a vocalist, projecting his innocently flat voice just a touch more. It's a sound that would make New Order, or more specifically the Wake, proud, but Craft Spells aren't mere imitators. They add a low-key tenderness and easygoing melancholy that those synth pop bands were usually too nervous to transmit. Plus, their melodies are so strong and hooky that it wouldn't matter if all they did was bite other group's sound -- there are enough good songs on Gallery to fill most band's greatest-hits collections. Especially the super catchy and propulsive first track, "Still Left with Me," and the moodily pretty "Sun Trails." Even more so than their debut album, Gallery shows just how impressive Craft Spells can be and sets them up as the synth pop revivalists to beat in 2012.

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