Co La

Moody Coup

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Matt Papich excelled at setting moods on Co La's previous work, and Moody Coup is no different -- although that may be the main thing this set has in common with his previous work. Where his last album, Daydream Repeater, melted reggae, lounge, and '60s girl group pop into something equally alluring and remote, Moody Coup is less overtly conceptual, allowing more room for different approaches. He opts for a cleaner, brisker aesthetic that is immediately apparent on "Sukiyaki to Die For," where the lush melody based on Kyu Sakamoto's "Sukiyaki" is tempered by crisp drums and a minimalist arrangement that prevents things from getting too sweet. It's one of Papich's least whimsical tracks, which comes as something of a surprise, given the original song's place as one of the most famous pop instrumentals of the '60s and the way Co La played with notions of kitsch on Daydream Repeater and Dial Tone Earth. The restraint he employs throughout Moody Coup makes the album feel more defined and polarized than anything he's done before, as though his previously free-flowing ideas were vapor that he distilled into these songs: they're more focused and self-contained, and pieces like "Remarkable Features," which ebbs and flows between water droplet percussion and sparkling synths to more beat-driven passages, boast more fully formed arcs. Papich also downplays the fascination with lounge and easy listening that was prominent in his other albums. Instead, he delivers Moody Coup's pop in concentrated doses like "Deaf Christian"'s tropical twist on Neil Sedaka's "Next Door to an Angel" and the luminous cover of Psychic TV's "Suspicious," both of which use Angel Deradoorian's vocals to perfectly sugary yet aloof effect. Elsewhere, he turns in some of his most experimental moments; the cut-and-pasted vocals on "Sympathy Flinch" are piled so densely, it sounds like they're twitching. All of these stylistic shifts are held together by a sparse, dub-influenced production that Moody Coup shares with Co La's previous albums and sounds particularly inspired on "Melter's Delight" and "Baby's Breath." Equally restless and restrained, Moody Coup might not be as transporting or concerned with sensual pleasures as Daydream Repeater was, but these ambitious, wide-ranging tracks are just as successful in their own right.

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