For his solo projects, Fridge's Kieran Hebden is a lo-fi experimentalist who, had he been recording 15 years ago, would've been cranking out songs on a four-track recorder instead of a laptop. As demonstrated on his third record, Rounds, he's one of the few musicians capturing all the promise inherent in computer science -- being able to summon, manipulate, and mix any sound imaginable. The record offers something for nearly every audience that could approach it, with a bit of a groove for electronic fans, an obtuse sense of music-making for experimentalists, and a dreamy melodicism sure to endear it to indie pop fans. The opener, "Hands," is especially breathtaking: it begins with a few seconds of drum samples, surgically inserted and ill-timed, but opens into a warm, melodic production with a simple frame-kit beat outlining Hebden's guitar-and-keyboard atmospherics. "My Angel Rocks Back and Forth" features a music box melody playing against softly shaded, backmasked guitar and a subdued, grating percussion line reminiscent of an iron lung. The nine-minute "Unspoken" alternates guitar and piano playing the same beatific melody, over another simple beat and tambourine claps. Though Rounds is experimental by nature, Kieran Hebden's gift for melody and emotional shading allows his records to be enjoyed by an audience wider than merely experimental listeners.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush