The Austin Chronicle

Texas Platters

Reviewed by Luke Winkie, November 8, 2013, Music

Black Books

(Believe Recordings)

We last left local quintet Black Books happily playing supporting sets for the Flaming Lips in the UK. No surprise they're scoring points overseas and leaving the hometown circuit in the dust; hypnotic pop with a galactic sheen generally works better in the frosty Atlantic than a humid gulf. Following an EP, their eponymous full-length opens with the smoldering "Favorite Place," also the kick-off of January's four-song Aquarena tease, after which the subsequent 10 songs cash in on the same glistening, spacious majesty. At its core, Black Books makes modern, meat-and-potatoes indie rock, but rarely does a young band with such humble capital generate music that sounds this expensive, accomplished. The huge swathes of space between the drums and bass, the starry, tempered nature of Ross Gilfillan's elfin voice – it's all working – especially in the expertly placed, and mystically subtle tugs of guitar on "The Big Idea," like churning magma deep beneath the Earth's crust. There's the slow, deliberate wash of reverb that coats the two-minute "Alley Cats," and the warped, hyperspace anthem "Take Take Take." There are even moments such as "Out the Door," where Black Books actually resemble a more grounded Sigur Ros. With production chops to match their ambition, an ordinary-looking band manages to build something spellbinding.


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