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The Black and White Years

Strange Figurines (Modern Outsider)

Reviewed by Abby Johnston, Fri., Jan. 24, 2014

Texas Platters

The Black and White Years

Strange Figurines (Modern Outsider)

Judging by their band moniker alone, Austin's Black and White Years cultivate a fascination with the past. Utilizing third LP Strange Figurines as a litmus test, this particular vintage sweeps off dance floors from the cocaine-coated Eighties. The energetic pop fivepiece bottles that decade's party fever, fueled by a beat punching through the speakers with honey-ed, lovesick anthems. And yet, despite moving its young audience to undulate, Strange Figurines practices a restraint rarely demonstrated by the era it evokes. Monochromatic vox and minimalistic synths collude throughout, epitomized by the title track and the industrialism of "Matching Sweaters." Even when venturing into melodic indulgences such as "We're Making Friends" and "Cities," the group knows just when to pump the brakes with guitar rhythms and hook-laden choruses. A song like the Doctor Who-worthy "Insomnia" spins both refreshingly current and undeniably ripe musical influences as the band continues stretching outside the influence of its 2007 debut's producer, Talking Heads guitarist Jerry Harrison. One thing's sure, Black and White Years shade in a little more doom and minor keys on this pleasure cruise. (CD release: Friday, Jan. 24, Parish)

***.5

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