Nine Tracks

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The Displaced probably get tired of the Pixies comparisons. The influence is everywhere on Nine Tracks, from the dual vocals of Simon Mandel and Jen Jansen to the way tracks like "Lei Lo Ha" and "Hydroplane" seem assembled out of the space between sludgy ether and jarring squalls of guitar. The lyrics' absurdist factor is also high, and Mandel has mastered Black Francis' crazed whoop. Thankfully, Nine Tracks offers more than blind tribute or bland retread. Mandel and Jansen jettison much of the nihilism that often guided the Pixies, replacing it with emotions seemingly derived from their off-stage relationship. They've also written some strong songs. "Cool Hunting" does seem to channel early Sonic Youth instead of their normal muse; still, its fractured arrangement is intriguing. And Jansen might have her best vocal turn during the rousing "Wrinkled and Blue." Still, the original comparison is ultimately too strong to ignore, especially when "Black Box" degenerates into jittery half-Spanish jabberwocky.

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