Dearly Departed

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If Ben Licciardi's reverbed vocals were any softer, they'd be a pillow. Combining the dreaminess of Yo La Tengo and the Americana of My Morning Jacket, Pagoda's debut is gentle and subdued, much like a baby who has just been given a bottle. It's also too brief and anticlimactic, but the Washington, D.C., band does wonders at holding back the volume, save for the drums at the end of "Superbreakout." In between bookended instrumentals, Dearly Departed shuffles along with lovely lap steel ("Throwing Stones," its most upbeat few minutes), hints of Galaxie 500 and Yo La Tengo, and reverb-drenched toy piano that recalls Mercury Rev ("Piano Song"). "Mesa Verde," with the melancholy refrain "I've been away," is one of several pleasant numbers that demand more development. It's ironic that such a quiet band comes from a city that is known for emo and hardcore, but then, everyone has to originate from somewhere.

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