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The last time I wrote about Sean Nicholas Savage was less than a year ago, when I reviewed his Other Life LP. It's hardly a surprise to find myself discussing another full-length of his so soon, though; the ferocity of his work ethic is well-established at this point. He made a slew of early releases - including no fewer than three albums in 2011 alone - available via cassette, and Other Life carried with it a decidedly unrefined sound that certainly fit neatly with the antiquity of his chosen medium of deliverance.

From the very get-go on Bermuda Waterfall, though, there's an obvious raising of the stakes in production terms. Quickfire opener 'Boogie Nights' sets the tone for what is, sonically speaking, the lushest effort Savage has yet turned out, with quiet, noodling guitars providing the bedrock for a hazy instrumental. When Savage does bring his vocals to the table, starting with 'Naturally', they're a little blurry, but not enough so that you could possibly apply the lo-fi tag; on that track, in particular, they're a nice match for stuttering bass and some lazy fretwork.

He flirts with different takes on the standard pop template with more confidence than on his past work, too; it's as if his relentless stream of releases has afforded him enough space to take a trial and error approach to experimentation. 'The Rat' is positively jaunty - perhaps a little too much, in fact, with an intrusive and unnecessary keyboard riff muddying proceedings. 'Empire', meanwhile, channels the same easy-going eighties feel as last year's Blood Orange record, and even if Savage's vocals stray a little too close to Michael Jackson parody for comfort every now and then, it lays down a marker for an irresistibly sunny sound that continues to pop up throughout Bermuda Waterfall.

'Hangin' On' and 'Hands Dance' both channel that same strain of balmy pop; the former's catchy, combining squelchy bass and casual percussion to clever effect, but the latter falls victim to sounding perhaps a little too lackadaisical. 'Please Set Me Free', meanwhile, pitches an exploratory approach just right - the evocative noise of rain on glass accompanied by a carefree Spanish guitar - but the sheer force of Savage's vocal turn on 'Vampire' suggests that he might be protesting too much, and the repetitive piano loop does little to help him out.

Other Life felt like a very, very rough diamond when it dropped last year; the potential was there, but the production values definitely weren't. On Bermuda Waterfall, Savage has taken a real step forward, proving beyond reasonable doubt that he's a fine songwriter; he just needs a little more instrumental refinement, and perhaps a slightly more nuanced understanding of his strongest vocal suit, before he's truly mixing it with the big boys of throwback pop.

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