Sweet Tip

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With six years passing since Clear Skin's release, did anyone expect Kirsty Yates and Julian Tardo to return with a new record? Probably not, which is one reason to let them off the hook for vaguely resembling the same duo that recorded Euphoria. The hollowed emotional discomfort, sexual tension, and general unease that bled through the 1993 record is virtually wiped clean. No longer fitting alongside the post-rock scene that has mutated considerably since its first echoes in the early '90s, Sweet Tip engages itself in peaceful, jazzy pop. It's a lot closer to Sade, Vanessa Daou, and late-'80s R&B than it is My Bloody Valentine, Seefeel, and early-'90s dream pop. The core remaining elements are breathy vocals and an emphasis on slinky rhythms. Aside from that, it's a new ball game. Gone are Tardo's Cubase compositions, replaced in favor of organic instrumentation. His guitar swoops and swirls have flown the coop to play a funkier, more supportive role alongside woodwinds and live drums. Yates sounds as if the last several years have seen her gain comfort inside her body, her voice losing the detached and sordid sentiment of before and gaining assuredness and clarity of thought. "Grand Prix" is surprisingly jumpy for Insides, a dead ringer for latter-day Luscious Jackson. The photos throughout the artwork accurately depict the loose, congenial feel of Sweet Tip, a transformation of club-going twentysomethings slipping into their coffee house-frequenting thirties. Where the setting for Euphoria's claustrophobia was best suited for a darkened room and ruffled sheets, Sweet Tip translates more for a sunny Saturday cruise with the windows down. It's not nearly as exciting and tension-fueled as their prior work, but give them credit for not pulling a Boston and rehashing a style they perfected many years before.

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