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Album reviews: Interpol, Working Men's Club, ARP, Belief, more – Brooklyn Vegan

We are mostly in the club this week in Indie Basement, so please stay hydrated. Reviews include: Belief, Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa and Boom Bip's ode to early-'90s techno and acid house; Working Men's Club mix '80s synthpop and '90s rave on their second album; ARP show off a lot of vintage synths and '80s electronic sounds on New Pleasures; and MISZCZYK enters trip-hop territory with help from members of Stereolab, Pylon and more. Plus: there's a new Interpol album, and a look back at The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots for its 20th Anniversary.
These of course are not the only records out this week and Andrew listens to Lil Silva, black midi, beabadoobee, and more in Notable Releases. Need more? Archers of Loaf announced their first album in 24 years, and Sloan announced their 13th album. Sorry have a new album on the way too, as do Fujiya & Miyagi. On a sad note, The Goon Sax broke up. We hardly knew ye.
The Indie Basement corner of the BrooklynVegan shop is well stocked with hand-picked vinyl, books and merch, including new albums by Kevin Morby, Belle & Sebastian, Porridge Radio, Spiritualized, Wet Leg, Dry Cleaning, Yard Act, Aldous Harding, and King Hannah, not to mention classics from Pylon, Sparks, Spoon, Stereolab, Broadcast, Lilys, Nick Lowe, The Cribs, Goldfrapp, Oasis, Echo & The Bunnymen, Slowdive, Roxy Music, The Libertines, and more.
Head below for this week's reviews.
ALBUM OF THE WEEK #1: Belief – Belief (LEX Records)
Like early-'90s techno and acid house? So do Warpaint's Stella Mozgawa and producer Boom Bip
Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa and producer Boom Bip (Bryan Charles Hollon) have been friends for more than a decade, beginning when she was enlisted as a touring member of Neon Neon, Boom Bip's collab project with Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys. They bonded over '90s techno and acid house artists like LFO and 808 State and for years talked about making their own homage to that time. In 2016 they started recording at Eric Wareheim's L.A. Absolutely Studios with a creative ethos that nodded to the late LFO cofounder. It informed everything they did: "What Would Mark Bell Do?"
Six years later, Mozgawa and Boom Bip have released their self-titled debut album as Belief. While I am not a serious techno-head, Belief is an album that is a wonderful tribute to a time, place and person, but also a killer record in its own right, not to mention a lot of fun, and it's loaded with bleep-y bangers. This is bass-heavy, ultra low-frequency dance music, that often feels like it was made a few leagues under the sea, colored by squelchy, acid-house 303s, ticking sequencers, breakbeats, ethereal synthpads, and a relentless four-on-the-floor kickdrum. Also: big hooks. "WOT," "I Want to Be" and the housey "Luther" are absolute stormers that could've been (UK) hits in the era of Orbital and Underworld. Stella's skills behind the kit are clear here too, with drum-forward cuts like the 808 State-y "Jung," the daydreaming "Art of Love," and the aforementioned "Luther." It will be interesting to hear how it translates live. But this is a record meant for the club and I think Mark Bell would've approved.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK #2: Working Men's Club – Fear Fear (Heavenly)
Second album from this UK band offers up dystopian bangers that fall somewhere between '80s synthpop and '90s rave
Hailing from Yorkshire. Working Men's Club were signed to Heavenly Records when frontman/founder Sydney Minsky-Sargeant was still a teenager – their fiery brand of synth-heavy post-punk inspired a small bidding war among UK indie labels. In the kind of ego-fueled move you don't hear about much anymore – especially after the death of Mark E Smith — Minsky-Sargeant sacked the rest of his band and made WMC's debut album on his own. The MES comparison extended beyond his management style, as his sprechgesang delivery and taut guitar lines often sounded like The Fall in their early-'90s era when they dabbled in electronics. Now with a new lineup of the band, Minsky-Sargeant returns with WMC's second album which is more confident and hooky than their debut, mixing JG Ballard-style dystopian post-punk lyrical imagery with '80s synthpop and '90s rave. Jaws are clenched, microphones are gripped tightly, and the party is going way too late, but nervy, sweaty tunes like "Widows," "Ploys," "Cut," "Rapture," and "Circumference" are too good to go home.

Interpol – The Other Side of Make-Believe (Matador)
Working with megaproducers Flood and Alan Moulder, Interpol deliver the most mature version of their sound yet.
The 20th anniversary of Interpol's debut album, Turn on the Bright Lights, is coming up next month and over the last two decades, seven albums and a few bass players, the band have carved out a distinctive indie rock niche, transcending their influences into a luxuriously dark-n-seedy sound of their own. At this point you know what you're going to get, it's just a question of how good the songs are gonna be. Made during the pandemic with alt rock superproducers Flood and Alan Moulder — whose combined CV is a Who's Who of alt rock (My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails, U2, Depeche Mode, New Order, Nick Cave, Smashing Pumpkins, etc) — they've delivered a big, beautiful-sounding Interpol Album that, despite what the band are known for and the trying times during which they made it, is not a total bummer. “The nobility of the human spirit is to recover and rebound,” Paul Banks said. “Yeah, I could focus on how fucked everything is, but I feel now is the time when being hopeful is necessary, and a still-believable emotion within what makes Interpol Interpol.” There aren't too many signature angular rock songs this time, though, and even ones that approach that are meticulous creations, but they sound more dialed in than their last few albums. Tracks like "Toni," "Something Changed," and "Fables" have a mature, noirish elegance that you could imagine mulling over with a glass of single malt scotch after a nice dinner.
Pick up a copy on vinyl.



Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Warner Brothers)
Do you realize 'Yoshimi' just turned 20?
The Flaming Lips' biggest selling album, 2002's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, just turned 20 and I wrote retrospective feature elsewhere on the site. Here's a bit of it:
How do you follow up a universally praised record? You make a concept album about a robot designed to kill that falls in love with its target that ends up being the biggest album of your career. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots was released July 16, 2002. "We made the Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots record, just really out of pure oblivion, and it really worked again," Wayne Coyne told ABC Australia. "For better or worse, we've not tried to learn that much about how the music business works…It was purely us saying, 'I have no idea what they're going to play on the radio. I have no idea what a cool video would be. I don't know any of these music business hot topics'."
How do you follow up a universally praised record? You make a concept album about a robot designed to kill that falls in love with its target that ends up being the biggest album of your career. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots was released July 16, 2002. "We made the Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots record, just really out of pure oblivion, and it really worked again," Wayne Coyne told ABC Australia. "For better or worse, we've not tried to learn that much about how the music business works…It was purely us saying, 'I have no idea what they're going to play on the radio. I have no idea what a cool video would be. I don't know any of these music business hot topics'."
Read the whole thing here.

ARP – New Pleasures (Mexican Summer)
Lush synth instrumentals that recall a gleaming '80s
For synthesizer nerds, a group named after the ARP synthesizer line, is probably enough to get you to press play. Alexis Georgopoulos definitely knows his way around vintage gear, and his first album in four years is a delight of modern spins on classic sounds. Where 2018's Zebra luxuriated in lush rainforest textures, New Pleasures in firmly in the city. "That space between idea and reality, fact and fiction — which drives New Pleasures —is so often inhabited by commerce, which conjures our fantasies for us,” Georgopoulos says of the album's themes. “There we find desire. For connection, luxury, distinction. We think we're immune to its psychology because we're conscious of it, but in some ways, it drives everything." The skyline Alexis constructs towers and gleams like a luxe condo where the doorman has a doorman, with the kind of '80s massive drum sounds heard on Miami Vice (think "In the Air Tonight"), as well as elastic, fretless bass, airy synths, Steve Reich-style marimbas/glockenspiels, and one finger always near the electronic handclap trigger. Heavy on atmosphere but with few single-worthy standouts (including the excellent title track), New Pleasures could've been the soundtrack to any number of Reagan-era films — Risky Business, Wall Street, To Live and Die in LA, Koyaanisqatsi – where even amongst the penthouses, pavement and teeming masses, it's a jungle out there.

MISZCZYK – Thyris of Etna (We Are Time)
An impressive list of collaborators, including members of Pylon and Stereolab, add to the allure of this gorgeous, engaging album by Toronto producer Nyles Miszczyk
MISZCZYK, aka musician and producer Nyles Miszczyk (and not the mischievous bowler-hatted imp who loves to mess with the Super Friends), has been part of the Toronto scene since the '00s and was, among other things, instrumental in no wave artist Chandra's recent reemergence. His own music is dark and dubby, and feels like it was born in the late-'90s at an independent record store like Other Music where Tindersticks, Aphex Twin, Stereolab, Mouse Mouse on Mars, Clinic and Broadcast were in regular rotation. For his debut album, he invited 16 artists to collaborate with him on as many tracks, including Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier, Chad VanGaalen, Pylon's Vanessa Briscoe Hay, Chandra, The Space Lady, Motorists’ Craig Fahner, Nigerian rapper NAI, Marker Starling and more.
“Giving everybody the creative freedom to do whatever they wanted meant that I was inviting chaos as a bedfellow,” says Nyles. “Somehow, welcoming 16 different singers to have their way with the music created a vibe that was more than anything I could have asked for.” Tracks definitely bend toward the collaborator: Laetitia Sadier's "In the Dark," with it's vintage keyboards, chimes and groovy '60s rhythm, could be mistaken for a Stereolab song; "Bad Ride," featuring Chandra, is like a darker Sade; and Marker Starling brings an ornate, orchestral melancholy to "The Leaves." It's all gorgeous stuff and a few songs — the dubby goodness of "The Garden" ft. Vanessa Briscoe Hay and the almost Interpol-esque "Led Astray" ft Jeremy Singer — approach greatness. Thyris of Etna plays like a highly impressive demo reel or spec script and it will be interesting to see where he goes next.
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