Reviewed by Kevin Curtin, Fri., Aug. 17, 2012
Guitarist Dani Neff and bygone rhythm section Will Krause and Cameron Page, who quit the band between the recording and release of Surreal Estate, crafted an artsy LP that gracefully shifts tempo and power with prog-rock dexterity and tonal focus. Instrumental complexity is inherent to Megafauna's grungy eclecticism, but every note is in service to the vocally driven songs. The title track and "Love Project" find Neff playing nightclub singer over a minimal score that, over three minutes, graduates into soaring heaviosity. Lyrically, Neff is uncaged, reflecting on relationships and singing about personal freedom. The big downside to Surreal Estate is vocal indulgence. Recorded in a separate session from the music, Neff's often multitracked vocals monopolize the mix and overshadow the songs' endearing assets. While she brings us close to enlightenment with "Touch the Lion" and howls with real soul on the refrain to "MSG," most of her vocal takes are too cluttered with echo and shadow tracks to really connect.