Letting Up Despite Great Faults

Untogether

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California dream pop band Letting Up Despite Great Faults were sometimes shuffled off under the "shoegaze" banner, filed with other 2010s revivalists of the washy guitar-pedal style like Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Wild Nothing. While all these bands share a sturdy foundation of pop and an obsessive fascination with its fuzzier side, on their second full-length, Untogether, LUDGF wander closer to the dancier elements of their dreamy indie sound, peeling back some layers of noise to accentuate their rhythmic undercurrents. The chorus-heavy guitars, buzzing keyboards, and driving drum-machine beat of opening track "Visions" all speak to a New Order influence, but when the high-pitched lead basslines come in, the song starts screaming New Order. Michael Lee is bandleader, lead singer, and player of most of the music on their recordings, and his breathy vocals sit coyly low in the mix, coming off like a cloudy-eyed Postal Service-era Ben Gibbard more than Bernard Sumner's pitchy croons. The pulsing shimmer of "Take My Jacket, Pauline" blends the classic '80s electro-pop sound with that of the band's contemporaries like Wild Nothing, with backing vocals from Alyssa Criswell rounding out the hazy romantic vibe. "Postcard" furthers the coagulation of '80s electro bands and their updates, borrowing heavily from the theatrical urgency of M83 with driving keyboards and distorted electronic drums. Untogether quickly loses steam, with songs blending pleasantly into one another, becoming a little too dreamy to stay lucid when soaked in muted production and watery electronics. The album walks the delicate line of being a collection of sounds to get lost in and losing the plot, but standout tracks like the melancholic programming of "Bulletproof Girl" and the fast-paced cinematic glow of "Numbered Days" keep Untogether from becoming one long song or a pastiche of friendly electronic influences.

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