Love Streams

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The debut full-length by German duo März is a crisp and melodic electronic record built from traditional pop sources. Ekkehard Ehlers and Albrecht Kunze recorded and looped bits of guitar, banjo, piano, and xylophone, among other instruments, and mixed their material with samples (including the easily identifiable loop of Nick Drake's guitar nicked from his "From the Morning" for "Introductory") and their own voices. Tracks like "The Help Song" and "Everybody Had a Hard Year" have an innocent, naïve sensibility that seems borrowed from the golden age of '70s singer/songwriters, but the steady, machine-like beats bubbling underneath the surface gloss provide an appealing twist. The instrumental "Chelsea Boys" has an even more pronounced micro-house rhythm combined with a simple glockenspiel melody that gives it a casual lightness rarely seen in the genre. A few tracks seem closer to indie rock. "The Rain Rains" is just clumsily plucked guitar, a music-box melody on a keyboard, and the sound of, yes, rain falling in the background, but it still manages to carry some emotional weight in spite of it all. Love Streams is the sort of album that feels like a new recipe; all the base materials have been around, but they've never been put together quite like this. An unusual combination of folky pop and sharp electronic sequencing that never falters in terms of listenability.

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