Calvin Love

Super Future

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Pairing woozy synths and thick, sultry rhythms, Canadian singer/songwriter Calvin Love channels the sort of pastel nightclub romantica that Bryan Ferry perfected decades earlier. A dash of Phoenix's pop sizzle and plenty of the noirish indie-psych vibes of contemporary Edmonton (where Love and pals like Mac DeMarco, Alex Calder, and Sean Nicholas Savage hail from) also make up the general tone of Super Future, Love's sophomore album and first for esteemed Toronto indie Arts + Crafts. Stylistically, it's an expansion of the same cool style he delivered on his meandering 2012 debut New Radar, but with an improved studio budget to help trim some of his ragged lo-fi edges. Highlights like "Automaton" and "You and I," with their punchy basslines and lost-in-the-night dreaminess, show a slick craftsmanship with a strong sense of melody and a penchant for building atmosphere and tension. "Calls from Jupiter" is another stand-out cut, with an easy manner and some killer chord changes to boot. So much of Super Future is delivered in the same midtempo groove, though, that it all begins to run together, and despite his efforts, Love just doesn't have the charisma to help it rise above other '80s-inspired retro-ists working in this increasingly crowded milieu. The drum machine beats, funk-light guitars, and dreamy synth pads make for an evocative, loungey feeling, but beyond that, Super Future's depth seems penetrable, for the most part, and as a vocalist Love doesn't quite have the presence to coast on vibes alone.

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