Phoneheads

Second Sight

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    5
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Allegedly a drum'n'bass album, although with a very techno edge, Phoneheads clearly spent a good amount of time with their keyboards, as the synth sounds on Second Sight are excellent. Whether electronically evoking the Byrds' 12-string guitars on "Faithhealer" or setting Detroit washes on endless loop as the catch-phase for "Lesmo," the sounds are gentle, almost fragile. The beats, which come from the atmospheric school of breaks, do little to aggravate the hushed tone. Instead, they form soft bed on which to lay the silky textures. This hold true even when the beats become broken and jumpy, as is the case on "Talent," when the rhythm doubles and halves and flips itself backwards almost every measure. To produce such erratic beats while remaining so blissful is something of a feat, which makes the major mistakes on Second Sight all the more difficult to forgive. The first err is a questionable rap on "Death of Distance," a misjudgment common for electronic music producers. The second is the heavy-handed attempts at '70s funk fusion that occurs on the later half of the title track and again during the entirety of "Shell." How could these angel-hair producers turn in such sloppy and overbearing basslines and amateurish drum sounds? It seems almost Jeckle and Hyde. This album does one thing very well, and another very poorly. But since it does really well on seven of the ten tracks, it can still be recommended.

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