Possum Dixon

Star Maps

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The most distinctive element of Possum Dixon's 1993, self-titled debut was an art-rock aftertaste that only occasionally got the better of its own cleverness. "Go West," tlead track from follow-up Star Maps, suggests more of the same with its Talking Heads/"Psycho Killer" paranoia. But by the chorus of second number "In Her Disco," its clear that Possum Dixon has tempered to a less-labored, better-edited vibe. The sparse, sometimes claustrophobic structure makes the group's unnerving lyrical and instrumental textures all the more effective, anchoring them to identifiable pop landmarks. Keyboards invoke the spirits of both vintage Tex-Mex and murder-mystery background music on "Radio Comets," then minimalist new wave electro-pop for "Party Tonight." Out of nowhere and without warning, Possum Dixon quite straightforwardly rocks on "General Electric" and "Crashing Your Planet," marrying early Flamin' Groovies booze-ups with that influential group's more refined, mid-'70s Beatles/Byrds/Stones hybrid. Things shift once again toward the moody, obtuse, and dislocated, but without the bold neon banner that telegraphs "insert weird stuff here." Invigorating and slightly disturbing all at once.

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