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Habibi

Habibi (Burger Records)

Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., March 14, 2014

SXSW 2014 Records

Habibi

(Burger Records)

Beginning with a moniker that's the nearest Arabic equivalent to "my baby," what's not to love about Habibi? The Brooklyn quartet melds Sixties girl-group yearnings with a beach rock backbeat and an air of wicked cool detachment, but it's their surplus of well-chiseled hooks that seals the deal. No hiding behind a panoply of effects pedals or Spectorian grandiosity here. Frontwoman Rahill Jamalifard consistently delivers unadorned wordplay on young romantic gum-smackers like "I Got the Moves" and "Detroit Baby," while guitarist Lenaya Lynch maximizes the contagion of these minimal pop gems with her less-is-more approach. Midway through, "She Comes Along" effectively mines fleeting shades of "Pale Blue Eyes" with its sparse, elegiac tone. The band's underlying Middle Eastern atmospherics bob to the forefront to commingle with folk-tinged psychedelia on "Persepolis." Then "Slin" raises goose bumps with a steamy depiction of driving, breathless intimacy. Top to bottom an action-packed debut. (12:30am, Hotel Vegas @ Volstead; Sun., Palm Door on Sixth, 8pm)

***.5

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