Shortwave Set

Replica Sun Machine

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It's perhaps appropriate that the Shortwave Set have Danger Mouse producing their second album -- given the dreamy late-'60s Beatles-and-forward psychedelia that tinges the whole album's sound, what better producer to have than the one who came to fame mashing up The White Album with Jay-Z? If anything, though, what Replica Sun Machine calls to mind is a previous attempt to meld aesthetics from about ten years back, the Beta Band's Hot Shots II -- it's not a question of exact similarity by any means, but there's a similarly easygoing feel in the arrangements and the beats, something that invites drift and a steady crunch in equal measure. Adding in some fairly high-profile collaborators in the persons of John Cale and Van Dyke Parks increases the sheer baroqueness of Replica Sun Machine (as memorably matched by the striking cover art), along with the sense of steady progression and sweet chanting throughout, especially on captivating lounge-funk numbers like "I Know," down to the wordless harmonies next to what sounds like a theremin solo. On a killer song like "Now Til '69," easily the measure of the kind of sunshine pop into early-ABBA efforts by such bands as World of Twist and Denim, the surging energy gives the album a big kick, while stately glam-tinged songs like "House of Lies," with its descending piano-led chorus, are further evidence of Replica Sun Machine's wonderful charms.

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