Nicholas Krgovich

The Hills

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Nick Krgovich's 2014 album, On Sunset, was a brilliant debut from the longtime indie pop craftsman best known for his work with P:ano and No Kids. The blend of nocturnal soft rock, laid-back R&B, and insightful pop the likes of which would have been at home on Warner Bros. Records in the late '60s worked quite well and matched the song cycle about the denizens on the fringe of Hollywood perfectly. His next album, 2016's The Hills, proves that the formula was nowhere near being exhausted. With a similar mix of styles and lyrics, Krgovich delves deeper into the outcasts and misfits who flutter around Hollywood like bugs around a lonely light bulb at 3:00 a.m. This time around, Krgovich and his collaborators (who include producer Colin Stewart and vocalist Nedelle Torrisi) take a few more chances, but still deliver something that serves as a companion to On Sunset, but also stands on its own as a deeply felt, sonically impressive album. The arrangements are richly colored in, with loads of violins, keyboards, and French horns, and the songs are catchy when they should be, heartbreakingly spare at other times. The little diversions that pop up help to differentiate the record from On Sunset; it's clear that Krgovich didn't just want to make the same album over again no matter how closely tied the subject matter may be and the inclusion of short snippets of background details from On Sunset songs (four of them in all). Some of the moments that stand out in this regard are "Mountain of Song" with its stuttering hip-hop beats; "Out of Work Jazz Singer," which sports insistent drums and smears of trumpet to go along with some funky synth bloops; and the '90s quiet storm finger snaps and vocal arrangements of the slick "Lookout Point." The songs that sound the most similar to those from On Sunset are satisfying too, especially the very Prefab Sprout "The Place Goes Quiet," which shows off just how nimble and evocative Krgovich's vocals are. In fact, even with the high level of craft and invention that went into the songs and the production, his vocals are the main selling point of the record. Even if the other aspects weren't as good as they are, The Hills would still be worth investigating just to check out his voice. They are good though, very good, and The Hills is another brilliant display of pop smarts and emotional depth from the always reliable Krgovich.

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