Populuxe: Uneasy Listening

Uneasy Listening
(Volume & Tone)

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A slow swirl of keys gets us into the funky beat of “Learning The Alphabet,” the first tune of Populuxe’s new album Uneasy Listening. Noisy guitar power chords inform the chorus with a slight pop-punk sensibility as Rob Shapiro’s slight Ray Davies/Harry Nilsson-like delivery fits this wry little opener. On the second tune, “American Night,” the band slows things down for a shimmery echo of a sweet surf-like ballad. I love this change-up of styles; only two tunes in.

The band reveals a near jazz mood on the bass and piano heavy “Carry Me” (at least in its verses). Featuring a weird warble (in a good way) Shapiro vocal, the band manages deep metallic slices in the chorus, setting off the heavy for the light as they do often here. The backward guitar effect is a nice touch on this weird yet effective tune that gets really loud as it ends.

There is that wry sensibility on the jumpy punk-like—and surely wonderful—“I’m Not Good At Drugs.” I love the effects used on the bass here, and the backing vocals are especially strong; dare we say Beach Boy’s like?

Employing more of those weird guitar effects, we slide into the electric strumming of “Unknown Town.” This island-like guitar short tune, and the finger-snap bass pop of the next, “The Show Is Closed,” present high points of the band and Shapiro’s singing, and that’s saying a lot on a collection with such outstanding vocals.

The music-hall-like piano of “Give Me A Moment,” reveals another expressive and truly Nilsson-like Shapiro vocal and caps what for me is a truly fantastic album from Populuxe.

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