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On their first few releases, Toronto duo Beliefs seemed to have no problem fitting in with the neo-shoegaze/psych crowd. They delivered fuzzy, bending-string guitars and steady, hypnotic rhythms in a downcast yet urgent manner, and the sound suited them just fine. With third full-length Habitat, however, they've undergone a radical transformation into a dark new wave/post-punk band. Guitars are still present, but they've been dialed back from their previous Wall of Sound intensity, and cold, eerie synths squirm their way out of the darkness. Opener "1994" features chilling guitar riffs which immediately bring to mind the Cure circa Disintegration, but other songs recall the dreamy yet slightly jagged uneasiness of mid-period Broadcast, and "Half Empty" is closer to the bad-vibe melodrama of Portishead's Third. That album's dark Krautrock undercurrent also informs songs like "Comb," which combines heavy rhythms, tensely droning synths, and frightening distorted vocals. Eventually the duo bring back some of the searing guitar attack of their older material, particularly on the pounding "Faulty" and the scuzzfest "Anti." "Retreat (Light the Fire)" demonstrates the duo's zeal for exploring complex interlocking rhythms and haunting electronic textures. Habitat finds Beliefs busting out of their previous box and venturing into exciting new territory, and while their stride is a little bit nervous and unsteady, it's a refreshing direction for the duo, and seems to promise deeper excursions into the unknown.

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