Hope and Adams

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Boston, Providence's pretty slowcore apostles avoid the sophomore slump with a lucent LP full of burbling-brook wonder. If Hope and Adams pales at all in comparison to its predecessor, Medeiros, it's because one scans these 14 tracks searching in forlorn hope for another song half as powerful as "Deathcar," one of the sneakiest punches of 1998. But even without such a gripper, the new LP is a little gem that gobbles up time slowly with grace in the same way that Idaho does, or Red House Painters did years prior, only without the gloomy voice. "Don't I Hold You," "Raised Ranch Revolution," and the chiming "San Diego" are typical of the mellifluous mellow pop on parade here, tasty, tangy, and as lovely-chilly as a sweater-weather autumn day. Imagine slow-driving cars gliding past, a picnic lunch, a favorite friend, and a day off from your travails, and you have the mood. The songs are pleasant, with sighing hooks that bob and weave among the long, timeless guitar passages and always-deft, often-hushed bass and drums. The vocals are reticent and somber, but in all the brightest, nicest ways, like a chum sharing your bummer day. The occasional piano, xylophone, subconscious backing vocal, and other modest touches complete a sublime and affecting picture.

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