The Lovely Sparrows

Shake the Shadow (Abandoned Love)

Texas Platters

Long-awaited successor to 2008 debut Bury the Cynics, the Lovely Sparrows' Shake the Shadow seems preoccupied with authenticity – and a fear of succumbing to numbness and normalcy. The locals' return builds on multi-instrumentalist Shawn Jones' playful instrumental intricacies and cerebral lyrics, quiet croon longing above acoustic guitar and synths in a melding of indie-rock and folk that's imbued with a sleepy surrealism not unlike that of the Shins' James Mercer. Both "Reclusive Animals" and "Patience Eagle" feel fixated on the supernatural, and "Languages Were Lost" rails against the prospect of suburban stagnation in Jones' lamentation: "Shopping malls and haircuts are all we have to look forward to." The unexpected "Lonely Magic" offers an abrupt and cavernous interlude of synths, a quick 52 seconds of spacey quiet before the wavering, sax-heavy "Gardener." The knotted "A Light," music growing more knotted as it peters out, holds the album's key: "If it's artificial, baby, let it die."

***.5

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