Psapp

The Camel's Back

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In a musical climate that often seems to value constant change over sticking to what you do best, Psapp do a great job of bucking that spurious bit of convention on their third album, The Camel's Back. Much as they did on their previous album, The Only Thing I Ever Wanted, Carim Clasmann and Galia Durant make a frothy, supersweet pop concoction out of various bits of styles (bossa nova, indie pop, electronic balladry) and sounds (strings, homemade sounds, restrained electronics, gentle percussion) and top it off with Durant's rich vocals. Rich actually might be underselling it some. Durant's vocals are perfect as part of the duo's sound, but they would sound good anywhere. She manages to pull off the neat trick of coming off sultry and cute at the same time, she never sings anything but the melody, and she generally adds sunshine to the headphones of anyone lucky enough to hear her. This time out the album is a little fuller sounding, mainly due to the string section that pops up on many of the tracks, but also thanks to a more fully developed sense of arrangement. It also holds some thrillingly catchy songs, like the jumpy, almost danceable album opener, "I Want That"; the jaunty "The Monster Song" (which despite its dark lyrical content sounds perfect for a summer day, and if it were used in a commercial could probably sell ice to Eskimos); and the insistent and almost rocking (in a very German way) "Mister Ant." The quieter moments are fine, too, capturing the sweet spot between mellow relaxation and gentle experimentation that not too many other groups can regularly hit. The only criticism one might level at the album is that there is an overall calm to the record that could lull those listeners prone to mistaking peace and quiet for easy listening into a coma. For those with more of an ear for intricate soundcraft and matchbox symphonies, The Camel's Back ends up being something far more satisfying and memorable. Psapp could keep making this same record for the next ten years and it would never get boring or sound anything less than the end result of two bright musical minds operating at their highest level.

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