Pixie Carnation

The New World Record

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"When Did the Lights Go Out" starts with gently inspirational rock plus lots of violin, it's like Pixie Carnation are aiming for something epic, but can't quite achieve it, though the lead singer makes a valiant attempt. The track sets the tone for the rest of New World Record, a kind of surging indie rock that balances its desire for breast-beating with a resigned wariness of the form, letting the politely sculpted chug of songs like "Speed Up Your Heart" set the overall tone. There are moments of unexpected surprises: the shift in tempo and arrangement toward the end of "Keep It Coming" actually gives it a big, warm conclusion instead of just continuing toward an end. Meanwhile, when the piano takes over from the guitars, the effect, while hardly unique, lends it a different kind of propulsion on songs like "Young and Free" and "Dreaming Still," matched on the latter with some lovely string work. The piano's prominence also gives "Easy Love," the album's conclusion, a suitably sentimental -- if still propulsive -- element to help send it all off, building up to a bigger version of the crisp chug that's been dominant throughout.

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