Imandra Lake

Seesamseesam

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It's little surprise that the debut album from Imandra Lake sounds rather like the band that spawned it -- both Rein Fuks and Eve Komp are longtime members of Pia Fraus, and the same sense of sweetly tuneful shoegaze (as opposed to full sonic violence) carries over to Seesamseesam. With its linguistic focus fully on the performers' native Estonian, there's a slight statement of purpose at work, but given the sonic style's emphasis on music and harmonies over lyrical straightforwardness it's more of a sidestep -- and above all else, it still sounds lovely. The opening "Öö Laul" may begin with what sounds like autoharp or ukulele but within a few seconds it's all rich woozy feedback and often enveloping half-sighed singing, so if it's business as usual in ways it's still thoroughly enjoyable. From there the bandmembers make their way across 11 songs all told, steering clear of overt electronic/dance fusions in favor of rock arrangements and playing everything themselves. There are all sorts of now classic tropes at work -- not for nothing does "Ilus Aeg" start off with a slightly slower version of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" drums as swathed with the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" echo, followed later in the song by none-more-Kevin Shields guitar tones -- but if the reference points are clear, the resultant efforts still sound good (the song in question has a stately roll to it, emphasized by a deep-as-hell bassline). There's also a regular emphasis on acoustic instrumentation, as can be heard on the heavily drone-touched "Ole Mu Laev." Above all their singing, constantly harmonized throughout, has its own take on dream pop's possibilities, a little more clear, airy, and -- perhaps strange to say -- restrained than many of its contemporaries.

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