Revolver | E.P. (Astralwerks)

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cd_revolver.jpgE.P.'s 16-minute running time speeds by in a flash, barely allowing enough time for what's just transpired to truly take hold.




I love the French. Seriously. They get such a bad rap: cast as snobs, derided as aloof and effete, dismissed as purveyors of terrible tunes that simply don't translate. But those in the know understand that there's a peculiar Gallic sensibility that tends to produce some of the weirdest, most distinct pop music. I mean, come on: Daft Punk? What other country would so enthusiastically produce disco robots? And Air? No other country came up with ethereal lounge music from the future. Only the French have these notions rolling around their brains. Revolver's E.P. emerges from the same country, and a similar universe. It's an unlikely fusion of pastoral British '60s folk rock and what seems to be a peculiar affinity for vaudeville and 1930s harmonies. Of course—why not?

The disc features only five songs, but the diversity on display is mesmerizing. "Leave Me Alone" is both melancholic and jaunty, accomplishing the task with sighing vocal harmonies and well-placed bits of banjo. "Calm Down" could be both a ruminative, nostalgic Nick Drake song or something played from dusty sheet music found in an ornate, shuttered downtown theater. "Get Around Town" takes the chamber pop orchestration straight out of a lo-fi Belle & Sebastian song and slaps it up against the wall, where it mixes with the barbershop quartet vocals and simply crazy finger snaps that they threw up there a little while before. Just when you thought an EP couldn‘t possibly cram in anything else, "2 A.M. Big Wish" adds Americana stylings into the existing freak-mix, this time in the form of harmonica, deep, wistful harmony vocals and a shuffling acoustic guitar figure. "Balulalow" bursts with the dramatic scope of a Broadway finale, only, you know, with chunky pysch guitars and the sound of the Kings of Convenience furnishing the soundtrack to a "talkie."

E.P.'s 16-minute running time speeds by in a flash, barely allowing enough time for what's just transpired to truly take hold. It's the aural equivalent of a particularly intelligent chicken riding past you on a motorbike with a sidecar attached, wearing a propeller beanie, waving hello with one foot and steering with the other. In other words, it is nothing you would ever expect to come across, but now that you have, something indelibly burned into your memory. B+ | Mike Rengel

RIYL: The Coral, France, The Kinks in their quieter moments, music best listened to on wax cylinders or 78 rpm records.

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