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Beginning as a side project of instrumental post-rock heroes Red Sparowes, Marriages tested the waters in 2012 with Kitsune, a six-song EP of hazy, often quite heavy shoegaze-inspired alt-rock. The Los Angeles-based trio is made up of drummer Andrew Clinco, bassist Greg Burns, and singer/guitarist Emma Ruth Rundle who, along with Burns, plays in Red Sparowes as well as fronting her own folkgaze project the Nocturnes. With several tours and a couple of years together under their belt, Marriages return with their debut full-length, Salome. Still relying on heavy delays and great basins of reverb to dress their landscapes, the album, though a bit uneven, feels more unified and focused than Kitsune did. Much of this is due to Rundle's willingness to forgo some of the more textural treatments of her voice, letting both her lyrics and melodies shine through to create a sound that is generally more accessible despite all of the wild ambience. With the release of her impressive 2014 solo debut, Some Heavy Ocean, Rundle has also grown as a songwriter and it shows here. Where Kitsune felt like an experimental outgrowth of her work with Burns in the vocal-less Red Sparowes ensemble, much of Salome sounds like a generally more succinct band that has begun to find its voice. Standouts like "Skin," "Less Than," and "Love, Texas" represent a more direct approach, mixing bits of clever post-rock with dark-hued dream pop. Conversely, the six-minute title cut builds so slowly and abstractly that it never quite gets off the ground. Both in terms of production and style, Marriages owe a great debt to the late-'80s/early-'90s alt-rock scene, recalling bands like Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, and the Cure, with their own identity sometimes getting lost in the swirling, overly chorused mix. But Rundle, Burns, and Clinco are all strong musicians and it's usually their intricate post-rock pedigree that helps to pull them back into the present, making Salome a step in the right direction for them.

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