Best known for his neo-classical soundtracks to various TV adverts and his ambient brand of electronica under the guise of Helios, composer and multi-instrumentalist Keith Kenniff adds another string to his bow by joining wife Hollie for yet another side project, Mint Julep. Utilizing his filmic experience, their debut full-length album, Save Your Season, is a lushly cinematic affair drenched in reverb-laden psychedelics, shimmering shoegazing hooks, and floaty ethereal synths, but it's Hollie's detached yet fragile vocals that set this apart from his usual instrumental chillout fare. On the more melodic offerings, such as the trippy synth pop of the title track, the hazy atmospherics of "Stay" (one of two tracks that also appeared on 2009's Songs About Snow EP), and the seductive dance-rock of "Aviary," they recall the deadpan '90s indie pop of Saint Etienne and Dubstar, while the girl group-does-indie disco of closer "Why Don't We," the gloomy early Depeche Mode-esque "To the Sea," and the jittery electro of "No Letting Go" are convincing forays into nu-synth territory. However, Kenniff's all-consuming production occasionally drowns out the duo's most valuable asset, particularly on the more guitar-led tracks such as the sci-fi grunge of "Time Is Distance" and the gothic Wall of Sound on "Cherry Radio," while the never-ending layers of fuzz suggest Keith got a bit carried away when given the opportunity to embrace his inner rock side. Nevertheless, Save Your Season is still a valiant and occasionally compelling first effort that, in addition to the likes of the Decemberists and the Shins, appears to confirm Portland's status as the home of U.S. dream pop.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien