Sixteen Deluxe

Emits Showers of Sparks

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Sixteen Deluxe made the slightly unexpected jump to major-label life well enough with Emits Showers of Sparks, which introduced a bit of new wave focus and crispness to the shoegaze/psych swirl of its earlier sound. Certainly that's the impression lead track "Sniffy Woe" leaves, with Carrie Clark delivering her lines with a cool but sharp punch over an arrangement as notable for its low purring restraint as its guitar crumble, something similarly heard in the equally fine, glam-tinged "Large Animal Clinic" and the snarling "Mexico Train." It could be due to John Croslin's co-production or a label demand to get things more radio-friendly, but rather than feeling like a compromise it's a fine new wrinkle for the band to work with, keeping Emits from feeling like a rewrite of their debut release. Lyrics are more prominent throughout, as well, no matter who is singing them, at times perhaps embracing a Generation X aesthetic a touch too closely -- thus "Purple" and its very '90s line "We don't have heroes anymore/I used to give a f*ck." Clark and Chris Smith duet a little more often here, as well, and as before they wisely sidestep sounding like My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive in favor of a more upfront delivery, evident on songs like "Burning Leaves." Clark takes the lion's share of the singing, but Smith has a couple of solid standout moments on the smart, surging charge of "No Shock (In Bubble)" and "Wrist Rocket." If there's less immediate beautiful chaos on Emits, there are still fine moments of unexpected majesty throughout, easily audible on the strong lope of "Let It Go," a classic country song in melody and pace sent through the band's own vision, the explicitly MBV-sounding "Honey" (likely nodding a bit to that band's "Honey Power") and the bubbling, martial-drummed "Lullaby."

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