Ardent Fevers

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It has to be said first and foremost -- Ardent Fevers is a great album title, seemingly straightforward but expressive of a state of mind better than most. Perhaps appropriately, the same could be said of Tanakh's work, with Jesse Poe's collective again finding a way to understatedly hotwire the more epic and symphonic impulses of 21st century indie rock (for lack of a better term) into an elegant new form, aiming not to bludgeon but to calmly suggest and entrance. Some members remain the same and others are new, but the key personnel change here, reflective of Poe's move to Italy, lie in guitarist Umberto Trivella, who collaborates with Poe on about half the album's songwriting. (There's also a collaboration with Alan Davidson of the Kitchen Cynics, "Winter Song," a fine, stately balance between related but differing aesthetics.) Building off of Dieu Deuil's controlled power -- and much unlike the self-titled album, with a number of short songs instead of two long ones -- Ardent Fevers starts off strong with "Drink to Sher," a steady, uplifting guitar figure surrounded by softly swelling horns and an almost martial pace -- but never explosive. It's that suggested tension which makes Tanakh especially intriguing, as can also be heard on a song like "Still Trying to Find You Home," and which makes more straightforwardly calmer moments like "Hit the Ground" or "Restless Hands" stand out all the more. At the album's most flat-out beautiful, Tanakh is almost jaw-droppingly perfect -- "5 am" is a great example, Poe's ruminative speak-singing and wistful acoustic guitar backed just so by the gentlest of strings and other instruments. Hints of the Tindersticks' and the Walkabouts' burned but never beaten dignity inform many moments, while nearly every member gets a moment of striking glory, such as Darius Jones and Paul Watson's brass work on "Deeper."

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