Art Pop

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Githead's members boast résumés with accomplishments far beyond the confines of rock (multimedia work, photography, sound installations and more), but they're also adept at mixing their finer aesthetic sense with a popular sensibility. The appropriately titled Art Pop is the strongest example yet of the band's knack for blending these two realms. If the debut Headgit EP was a collection of intriguing sketches, which Profile transposed to a broader canvas, then Art Pop is an even richer, multi-dimensional artifact. This second album builds on Githead's avant-pop foundations, adding depth and texture and bolder colors and shapes. The band flexes its funk muscle for "Drop" and "Space Life," which hypnotize with supple, bass-heavy grooves; meanwhile, "Drive By" cranks up the guitars and Colin Newman assembles one of his patented word collages with hectoring menace. Previous outings displayed a melodic flair, but that's even stronger here as "These Days" brims with unprecedented singalong harmonies and the infectious "All Set Up" nods playfully to Wire's "Outdoor Miner." Although Art Pop fleshes out Githead's palette in compelling ways, the album's newer dimensions are especially striking. The pastoral electronica of "Jet Ear Game," for instance, finds a cyber voice reading Githead press clippings in a cocoon of looping, lulling guitars. "Lifeloops," by contrast, is deeply human and achingly fragile, pared down to Malka Spigel's childlike vocals and acoustic guitar (you can even hear the rasp of fingers on strings). Indeed, this immediacy is a salient feature of Art Pop, which often reveals a less oblique side to Githead's personality, most memorably on the closing "Live in Your Head," a swaying, lighters-aloft anthem. Despite a move away from the opacity of earlier work, however, the band sacrifices none of its creativity and imagination: overall, Art Pop is a finely balanced record that seamlessly fuses familiarity and inventiveness.

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