All the Falsest Hearts Can Try

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Will Johnson's straining voice and lyrical surrealism on Centro-Matic's fourth full album elicit comparisons to the psychedelic pop that the Flaming Lips fashioned throughout the 1990s. Borrowing from the Lips' theatrical arrangements on their albums, the tracks on All the Falsest Hearts Can Try overlap thematically, so that the entire album seems to run in a continuous strain of inventively assembled music. The wistful lyrics clinging to a lilting classical piano accompaniment on "Cool That You Showed Us How" shift directly to "The Blisters May Come," with its grinding guitar and screaming speculation about impending pain. This stirring contrast in turn moves into an impressive array of solid indie rock. Although for the most part Centro-Matic's sound draws from indie archetypes like Guided By Voices and Pavement, it reveals the band's roots in a Texas tradition of guitar-driven blues, country, and rock. During certain parts, the album quiets down to a beautiful, eerie mix of acoustic guitar and Wurlitzer organ or piano. But both the loud and the soft, the distorted and the purely acoustic, and the screaming and the whispering in Centro-Matic's music feel contaminated with a melancholy that is as alarming as it is compelling.

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