Deadbeat Beat

How Far

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After releasing two scruffy, noisy records that combined surfy garage rock and hooky indie pop in promising ways, Deadbeat Beat return with a fully formed, dramatically improved sound and vision on their third album, How Far. Recorded over a long stretch of time by the core band of guitarist/vocalist Alex Glendening, drummer/vocalist Maria Nuccilli, and bassist Zak Frieling, the trio polish most of the rough edges off their songs to leave only glittering gems that fulfill all the promise of their early work and then some. Kicking off with the two-minute slice of heavenly indie pop "Baphomet," the album delivers songs that have sharp hooks, simple and effective arrangements, and inspired performances. Nuccilli and Frieling form a powerful backline that's alternately swinging and punchy, and Glendening's guitar playing is malleable and sharp; he shows mastery of jangle, crunch, drone, and expansive freak-outs (especially on the album's longest and most psychedelic track, "Tree, Grass and Stone"). His vocals are sweetly unaffected and when he sings with Nuccilli, the duo come off like the life-long pals that they are. The whole record has a homey, friendly feel even when Glendening's lyrics veer off into territory far from the typical love-found-and-lost territory of indie pop. The darker lyrical concerns of "From What I Can Tell" and "The Box" give the album some depth and introspective feels that the often-sugary textures can't quite hide. A lot of the record is like biting into candy and unexpectedly finding out it has a sour core. It's an interesting juxtaposition of sound and emotion, and Deadbeat Beat make it work. Even if there wasn't a bunch of stuff going on under the surface, the sheer pop goodness of tracks like "You Lift Me Up" or "I'll Wait" would have been enough to make the record very good. Add the emotional undercurrents and care put into the overall sound and arrangements, and How Far becomes something quite special and a huge step forward for the band.

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