Voxhaul Broadcast

Timing Is Everything

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Los Angeles popsters Voxhaul Broadcast made a sizeable splash in their hometown with the release of their brief but powerful debut, Rotten Apples, in 2008. On this 2011 follow-up, their sound has filled out to rock star proportions. The ebullient, sparks-flying opening track, "Leaving on the 5th," sets the order of business for the rest of the album: intelligently crafted alternative pop that aims to stir, whether it's via classic rock riffing, U2-ish arena rock, or heart-rending post-Radiohead synth pop melodicism. David Dennis' soulful singing provides color and interest throughout, with a stylistic range that flows from seductive to snotty to plaintive. Silver Lake-based producer Tom Biller, a former protégée of Jon Brion, creates a dense and layered atmosphere with expansive arrangements and a vast overall sound that allows the band to luxuriate in ecstatic drumfills ("Steal the Diamonds") and gorgeous textures. The songs alternate between bluesy and sweet, sometimes toggling between the two within a single track. In the former category is "Loose Chains," anchored by a driving bassline and buoyed by heavily echoed vocals and trippy guitars. "No Better Reason," with its catchy "woo-hoo" vocals, sounds like a Holland-Dozier-Holland chestnut reconfigured with hard rock guitars. "Junkyard Dog" combines a heavy guitar lead and a sultry, knowing vocal from Dennis that flies up into a quavering Thom Yorke falsetto. On the sweet end of the spectrum: the jaunty "Cheetah" sports winsome guitars and compact but joyful new wave verses and choruses, suggesting British Sea Power or the Strokes at their most exuberant. "Blackout" verges on Queen territory, with a sweeping, synth-enhanced elegance, and a stick-in-your-head, neo-classical hook. Delicate finger-picking, a gentle keyboard run, and calm-inducing harmonies make "If I Run" a quiet standout, while "Sleepless Dreamer"'s enchanting bass/guitar unison intro, nautical-sounding keyboard, and soaring vocals take a more dramatic approach. The pounding "Fact or Fiction" ends things on a high note, literally and figuratively.