Lapland

Lapland

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Brooklyn-based one-man-band Josh Mease follows his proficient 2009 release, Wilderness, with a new name and a fortified sound. Wilderness is already a clinic on melody, harmony, and lush '60s-infused indie pop. With the self-titled debut of moniker Lapland, Mease evolves his sound into something more consistent and recognizable woven from ethereal keyboard lines, strummed rhythm guitar, and clouds of echoing vocal harmonies. Though these elements made appearances on the previous album, here they pervade and unify it. In the context of his songs, the sound has a timeless quality; Lapland is a place where the Beatles, the Beach Boys, '70s singer/songwriters, '80s new wave, and '90s ambient pop all mingle and pepper his reverb-heavy, ultimately fresh-sounding version of dream pop. The markedly chill tone of the album doesn't get sleepy, either, because he never abandons melody, harmony, and form. Lyrically, the record’s hazy atmosphere and mélange of musical decades are reflected almost thematically with songs about the transient nature of memory, time, and people ("Though we can never change the past/We can be sure our memories won't last"). "Where Did It Go?" is an elegant piece on loss via undependable relationships reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac's "Gypsy," itself about loss and memory. There are some surprises on the album: "Fountains," an instrumental waltz, and "Aeroplane," a synthesized '50s prom ballad à la the Platters. These songs still blend with the rest of the record because of the shared -- distinctive -- palette of timbres and effects. With Lapland, Mease commits to a soundscape that's analogous to Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. However, the crux of the album is, as in his prior work, a framework of engaging and well-crafted pop songs.

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