The Aluminum Group

Pelo

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Swapping producer Jim O'Rourke for fellow Chicago-scene linchpin John Herndon, the Aluminum Group's stunning fourth LP Pelo also exchanges the symphonic flourishes of previous outings for Teutonic bleeps and beats which fuse to the Navin brothers' typically elegant and arch melodies with surprising seamlessness. Electronic textures on an Aluminum Group record are hardly a novelty -- their breakthrough Plano was firmly rooted in synth-pop territory often veering uncomfortably close to the Magnetic Fields -- but the expansive sonic palette of Pelo bears little resemblance to conventional pop sensibilities of any stripe, instead most closely recalling German electro-alchemists Mouse on Mars. Even more remarkable is that the album's innovations don't come at the expense of the Navins' vaunted melodicism -- somehow Pelo's skittering, pulsating rhythms dovetail perfectly with the classicist style and sophistication of "If You've Got a Lover, You've Got a Life," "Satellite," and "Geraldine," further strengthened by the songs' consistently inventive vocal arrangements.

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