Absinthe Blind

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The third album by Champaign-Urbana's Absinthe Blind is a shoegazer-y blend of gauzy sonic effects, flat, affectless vocals, and dreamy tempos. Unlike many bands that work this side of the stylistic street, however, this six-person combo (including three Fein siblings: singer/guitarist Adam, keyboardist Erin, and drummer Seth) isn't interested in textures for their own sake, but as adjuncts to a solid melodic sense and a tendency toward concise song structures as opposed to aimless noodling. Rather than try to sound like the next My Bloody Valentine, Absinthe Blind applies that band's production sense to a more organic sound, heavy on the piano, strings, and trumpet. (The centerpiece instrumental, "Three Hours Later," is a perfect example of how to integrate melody and atmospherics.) Even on the harder-edged songs, like the swirling "Invisible One," the melody is supported but never displaced by the waves of guitar noise and swirling effects. Adam Fein's largely forgettable lyrics, unfortunately, never match the level of sophistication shown by the band's musical skills, but at least he doesn't embarrass himself.

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