Eux Autres

Cold City

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Siblings Nicholas Larimer and Heather Larimer sound admirably full-bodied for a two-piece guitar-and-drums combo on Eux Autres' second full-length album, Cold City. While the duo's music occasionally suggests the influence of Beat Happening and their willfully naïve brethren, Eux Autres can play and aren't afraid to show it, and they reveal a healthy enthusiasm for pop classicism that peacefully coexists with their affection for expressive minimalism. Actually, much of the time Cold City doesn't sound all that minimal, thanks to some tastefully applied keyboards from producer Jeff Stuart Saltzman and judicious guitar overdubs from Nicholas, though everyone involved has the good sense to know when to stop and if the sound is bigger than one might expected, it's never cluttered. The fact that both Nicholas and Heather sing with equal skill and enthusiasm is also a considerable plus (as are their harmonies), and Saltzman's production is clever but serves the songs without calling undue attention to itself. And the songs are compact marvels of hooky melodic form with lyrics that manage to be charming even when they're cryptic (and you just gotta feel sorry for the guy in "Park Bench Vacation" who ends up stranded with just a Creed cassette to his name). Some albums get by on their charm, and Cold City could have been one if Eux Autres didn't happen to have plenty of talent and imagination to go along with the winning musical personality that's on display on this disc.

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