Having made a fine mark with the minimal and melancholy bliss-out group Polar, Kristy Moss and Ed Ballinger shift sights slightly, but with equally fine effect, in Con Dolore, accompanied by three new bandmates. The band's first album, This Sad Movie, is a concept album of sorts but not an overbearing one, detailing the slow collapse of a relationship rather than some kind of explanation of the universe in 40 minutes. As was the case with Polar, there's much that suggests Black Tape for a Blue Girl's obsessive romanticism blended with musical elegance and delicacy, though Con Dolore has more of an interest in various dance musics via poppy lounge/funk and breakbeat samples, making a band like, say, Saint Etienne or Lamb as much of a reference point. "Feed Us All" pulls together two generations of electronic fusion, with New Order-reminiscent bass backed by abbreviated drum'n'bass loops on the verses (the chorus itself is one of many points that in turn suggests a kissing cousin to the Smashing Pumpkins' underrated Adore). Meanwhile, the compressed feedback swells of "Dream" show that there's still just enough shoegazing in the lead duo's souls. Moss is again in fantastic voice, acting as the calm but never dull anchor at the center of the songs, detailing the twists and turns of a deep love quietly but inexorably fraying. Ballinger's own quieter, soft performance isn't as immediately striking but is no less involving, calling to mind Neil Halstead's hushed power in Slowdive, but in a different, crisper setting. When the two blend together, as with the astonishing Cure-guitar-tinged "She Said Goodbye," the results are often intoxicating. The first full tune on the album, "The 7th," is one of the most majestic, its core loop/keyboard arrangement getting all the more full and rich (and dare it be said, cinematic) as it goes. All this and a song about "All Our Favorite Cats" as well.
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett