El Toro

May and Marielle

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There are some albums that start off poorly but quickly pick themselves up. El Toro stalls with the minute-long acoustic ditty "Paper Dolls," which leads into the downbeat, electro-cum-ambient pop of "Georgia Peach" with a guitar playing off in the distance. It's sort of like a modern day Primitive Radio Gods, but when the rhythm section kicks in, everything blossoms. From there May and Marielle goes into a grand, epic chorus with ease à la My Morning Jacket but without the overt Southern flavor. The band uses both rock and electronic elements throughout, although it takes a while for some songs to get off the ground. This is true of "Bouncing Ball" as it slowly finds itself after a brief moment which brings the Cure's "Pictures of You" to mind. The chemistry between the bandmembers is excellent, as they go about carving out their own delicious indie rock or college rock cuisine. A definite great and anthem-like arena tune, "The Sirens" is another fine stab at melodic rock with the harmonies being the key here, resembling the Finn Brothers to some extent. Perhaps the song most strongly reeking of radio-friendly is the melancholic "You Will Write (For Sara") which is quite subdued until a brief drum solo comes into play for no good reason. From there it dissolves into an emocore wailing coda. Musically El Toro are experimental, with the handclaps on the lovely "My Sweet Love" a nice touch before they head into a roots rock motif. The consistency of the album is very appealing, whether it is during the uplifting, synth-leaning "Beauty and Romance" or the run-of-the-mill "Far Away," with the latter getting extremely heavy when there really isn't any need to. The crowning achievement is "Carousels" as the band melds rock, electro and roots to fuse something very unforgiving if it doesn't work, but something beautiful when it does. A dreamy lullaby that is also the title track wraps the album up. This is a very inventive, genre-crossing blend of credible tunes.

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