Halloween, Alaska

Too Tall to Hide

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A lot of bands claim not to fit any preexisting pop music genre, but few can back up such claims as convincingly as Minneapolis-based Halloween, Alaska, whose second album could be filed with equal inaccuracy in the pop, electronica, avant-garde, rock, and glitchcore categories. This is an album that opens with the jittery-jungly and swooningly melodic "A New Stain" before swelling to the sonically large and weirdly cathartic "Drowned" and then lapsing into the strangely pretty but melodically dry, lyrically whimsical and sonically spare "The Light Bulb Does." Then comes the biggest curveball of all: a contemplative deconstruction of LL Cool J's "I Can't Live Without My Radio," an interesting gamble that doesn't quite pay off -- where other songs on this album come across as self-effacingly quirky, this one seems self-consciously clever. But the heavily compressed drums and '80s-refugee synthesizer on "Receiving Line" make it easy to forgive that misstep, as does the creepy-but-cool "Forever". (Instrumental versions, a Quicktime video and song lyrics are included on a bonus CD-ROM track.) Highly recommended.

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