Sinister Devices

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Florida duo Viernes could easily be seen as just another indie act with big goals, but their debut often promises something a little more intriguing. Starting with a rumble of bass tones and soft harmony vocals, Sinister Devices initially seems to be a blend of art pop gone retro-tech, early-'80s fashion. The icy flow of early synths on "Glass Windows" that arc beneath the wordless singing on the song's break, matched later by the lovely start to "Regressive Soul Pollution" thanks to its shimmering guitars and distanced singing, seems to suggest a constant model to follow throughout. Meanwhile, the sense of reserve in general can best be summed up by another song title: "Glacial Change of Pace." At the same time, Sinister Devices is much more of a recent blend and approach in the end; if the sources of inspiration suggest familiar roots, the crisp edits, sudden jumps, and sense of repurposed use of instruments -- not a re-creation of a time, but a reapplication of the sonics -- hold sway, further combined with more recent approaches from different areas to create a release more of its time rather than out of any one in particular. Again, a song title sums up the audible approach: "Ancient Amazon/New Fashion." The sense of "Entire Empire" as a suddenly thrilling take on the nervously clean arrangements of Seefeel circa Quique is lovely enough, while the scuzzy distant guitar on the chorus of "Sinister Love" suggests but does not fully cause a sense of shoegaze at work. It's a feeling of almost-but-not-quite that echoes throughout much of the album (examples including "Honest Parade" and "Faulty Investments" -- the latter also fully giving in to the incipient late-'60s Beach Boysisms throughout) even as soft electronics and calm singing stand to the fore of most arrangements.

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