News from Nowhere

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In 2007, when Darkstar debuted with the seductive dub of "Dead 2 Me" and the probing dubstep of "Lilyliver," both of which were woman-fronted A-sides, one couldn't have predicted where the group's sound would fall by 2012/2013. After producers Aiden Whalley and James Young added James Buttery to supply vocals for their debut album, 2010's dramatically sullen North -- a transitional album that saw them break from dubstep -- they changed course once again. Undoubtedly attributed to having Buttery as a writer for the first time, as well as a creatively restless nature, Darkstar now take the shape of an avant electronic pop trio. Lighter and more colorful than North, News from Nowhere begins sleepily and then flits between spacious and cluttered moments, often within one song. The low points, when the three musicians sound as if they are forcing it, come across as frilly neo-psychedelic goulash. The more measured and less frantic songs -- the chiming shuffle "Timeaway," the fluttering and spooky "Young Heart's," the surprising Richard Formby collaboration "Hold Me Down," and even the borderline-slavish Beach Boys homage "A Day's Pay for a Day's Work" -- leave lasting impressions and provide fascinating, colorful contrast to the group's 2007-2010 releases. Odds seem favorable that their next move will be more captivating.

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