I think whether you like EAR PWR's second, self-titled album, will depend on whether you've ever wondered why shoegaze bands were always so serious and/or not quite twee enough. A bizarre fusion of Asobi Seksu melodies, nature worship and bubblegum synths, theirs is a sound that initially eludes your grasp; yet it's not a love it or hate it dichotomy. More; you might not really understand why the whole album is so downtempo and superficial feeling, or conversely you might keep returning to it, without quite knowing why, and loving it. It's not going to be for everyone that's for sure, but it's an intriguing collection. At any rate, the popular last.fm tag on their profile of 'hipster garbage' is pretty unfair.

Take 'North Carolina' for example, a tribute to the duo's roots. It's a fizzing, bubbling pool of synths and warming vocal harmonies, but it's hardly wildly passionate. In fact, there's not much on this album that is, but that kind of laconic, easy-listening approach has a definite charm of its own. There are moments, especially in songs such as 'Feel It' and 'Melt' where Sarah PWR's vocals and gently undulating synths make it easy for you to be sucked in, to lazily drift around a kind of technicolour current. If EAR PWR could burst the banks once in a while this album would be great, and quite a unique proposition, but too often the undercurrent eventually stagnates.

One of the most interesting tracks on the album, and almost certainly the most divisive, is closer 'Your life is important'. Described to me by one friend recruited as a sounding board whilst formulating my own stance on the whole thing as 'like a bunch of children singing a nursery rhyme', it's definitely playful and cute at the least. The melody is a cloying, saccharine thing, but at the same time it's so un-pretentious and carefree it's hard not to grin along. It's a strange note to end what is hitherto quite an atmospheric and ponderous album but it shows a glint of the audacity that could end up making EAR PWR's name.

Ultimately then, this album offers a coherent, often tongue-in-cheek journey through a very specific musical landscape. The shadow of missed potential doesn't black out the sunny, languid charm of the ten tracks and for those unfulfilled shoegaze/twee enthusiasts out there, it's a pretty beguiling missing link. Just don't go into it desperately hoping for Hipster Garbage and you'll be ok. EAR PWR haven't hit the nail on the head just yet but they're not trying to be something they're not, and more power to them.

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