Most Valuable Players

You in Honey

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The short debut album from Swedish quartet Most Valuable Players would, on the face of the cover, seem to be another addition in the continuum of gentle twee pop. Which it in fact is, but often of a decidedly murkier and moodier bent than many others. Instead of chirpy singalong harmonies or the like, You in Honey veers from completely dank sonic collages (thus the short opening instrumental, "A Dream (Dreamt)," which sounds like it's literally being drowned) to brighter-sounding, though not necessarily more brightly sung, synth pop-based work. Songs like "AC in HCMC" are the kind of confections that derive more from the Field Mice and the Magnetic Fields (not to mention, thanks especially to the singing, the calmer side of Hood) than, say, New Order itself -- it's good fun but at the same time one almost wants a more concrete, brutal edge to the arrangements, a full engagement rather than a reflective withdrawal (though "You're All I Can Think Of" comes pretty close). But the tension between calmer singing and more hyper music remains strong enough, a familiar trope that finds a good home with Most Valuable Players. When the group lets themselves go the full softly blissed-out haze route on the arrangements, as on "A Kiss on My Lip," acoustic guitars and calmly swooping keyboards ebbing and flowing like a quick tide, they might actually be at their best -- that they're comfortable with extended instrumental passages as well as full-on vocal-less numbers is also to their credit. "Stockholm Doesn't Belong to Me" has received earlier attention for the group, and it's not bad at all, but the secret winner might be "Marco Polo," where the singer's voice aims for a higher register without forcing it while the crisp rhythm actually comes across as a variety of microhouse more than anything else, a feeling emphasized by the almost glitch-based drop-ins on the instrumental break. Best song title: "Most Valuable Players vs. the Technology."

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