Utah Carol


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The Chicago-based husband/wife duo Grant Birkenbeuel and JinJa Davis named their debut disc after a Coney Island ride, and Wonderwheel takes the listener a carnival ride of dreamy pop music as their colorful songs spin and twirl in a whimsical, winsome way. Recording the album on their own in their home studio, the duo handcrafts their songs using bits of pop, new wave, country, R&B, and whatever else they think sounds interesting. A bouncy little number like "Boon" mixes a '60s keyboards line with a new wavey guitar riff, while a funhouse organ weaves through the country-ish "Charmed Life." There's an enchanting, almost child-like quality to their couple's quietly adult music. Their lullaby-like harmonizing vocals float effortlessly through their songs, even on bittersweet numbers such as "My Fear," and Davis' hushed, lilting singing, in particular, holds an alluring appeal. Utah Carol's songs tend to be brief -- 20 of them are packed into this sub-46 minutes disc -- but the tunes often are so enjoyable that you wish that they lasted longer. The handful of short instrumentals scattered through the album contributes to the quirky sound, but they also are rather ephemeral. Those qualms aside, Birkenbeuel and Davis have created a charming debut that offers a delightful array of poppy hooks, wistful vocals, and a vibrant collage of sounds.

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