It didn't seem like Blondes could distill their sound any further than they did on their self-titled debut album, which collected singles whose names wittily contrasted and resolved seeming opposites (Lover/Hater, Business/Pleasure) while delivering sleek tech-house that similarly balanced intricate sounds with an on-the-fly approach. Yet Sam Haar and Zach Steinman have done just that on Swisher, a set of subtler, richer tracks that expand on the duo's dialogue with momentum, texture, and melody. Those first two elements dominate most of the album, which might initially disappoint fans of Blondes' pop leanings, but Steinman and Haar use rhythm and percussion so deftly that these tracks are ultimately just as engaging as their debut's more tuneful approach. "Bora Bora" is a perfect example: arriving after the breezy, relatively brief prologue "Aeon," it lands with a four-on-the-floor beat whose relentless forward motion is tempered by layers of writhing percussion and synth stabs that are so understated that they're almost implied. The duo stretches this excursion out for nearly ten minutes, but it (as well as Swisher's other lengthy and densely packed tracks) never drags because so much is happening at any given time. Blondes express this ever-expanding feel a little differently from track to track; the sleek, bass-driven "Poland" leans more toward pure techno, "Andrew" is dominated by a tone that sounds like a half-synth, half-human hybrid that evokes the fashions of late-'80s/early-'90s electronic music, and the title track lets spiraling arpeggios take nearly as much prominence as the insistent beat. Yet all of these songs are united in Blondes' commitment to transcendent dance music, particularly on the joyous album closer "Elise," which makes the most of the duo's way with inspired melodies. It also helps that each track melts into the next seamlessly, making it all the easier to get lost in the album's moment-to-moment fascination. Swisher may not be as immediate as Blondes was, but these ambitious, accomplished tracks offer ample proof that restraint can be exciting.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares