Hidden Speaker

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Hidden Speaker

The May Collection EP (Seventy-Seven/Robitussin) The latest release from this Texas/California pop collective serves as an appetite-whetter for their upcoming sophomore effort, tentatively titled Careening on Pins. Bandleader Evan Dickson delivers a mélange of guitars and keyboards on "Beyond Me" that brings to mind an updated spin on gothic stalwarts like the Sisters of Mercy and Mission U.K., and yet, his vocals are more ragged than elegant, sort of like a subdued Billy Corgan. The underlying twang of "Other Side of Fake" empowers the song with bittersweet charm, while "The Photo Coffin" is an icy excoriation that begins with the bathroom stall-worthy lyric, "You are the executive producer of my worst nightmare." Demo versions of "Beyond Me" and "If You're Bleeding" don't add much to the final versions also included here, and the track "Intermission" turns out to be a blank space. The chant "Natalie Portman" could also be construed as slight, but there's an undeniable creep factor to it that makes you want to rubberneck and/or warn the young actress to file a restraining order. Ultimately, this here souvenir is for the fans.

** .5

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