Life Is People
Last year's reissue of Bill Fay's 1971 album Time of the Last Persecution was a revelation. Although championed recently by artists as diverse as Current 93 and Wilco, Fay's early work was nearly impossible to find; finally being able to hear Time validated the emphatic praise of how unique and emotionally devastating this singer-songwriter's work was. Life Is People is Fay's first real full-length since Time, and although it doesn't pack the same outsider-y vibe as his early '70s work, it's an arresting, evocative and deeply personal listen. – Jason Ferguson
(True Panther Sounds)
With Tracer, the Google-unfriendly duo known as Teengirl Fantasy have evolved from making beautiful, natural-sounding house music into making ambitious and textured electronic compositions that are both ethereal and energized. Tracer is most definitely a pop album, and the vocalists that are onboard (Panda Bear, Romanthony) help drive that point home. However, the complex arrangements and clear sense of purposeful artistry behind these well-crafted numbers are evidence of a sophisticated and forward-looking perspective on the possibilities of electronic music. – JF
For all the fuss over the difficulty of sophomore efforts, the mark of a truly great band is its third outing. Allowing for overcorrection and exhaustion, a threequel's success depends on whether the artists accumulated enough momentum to get them across the finish line relatively intact. To that end, Fragrant World is a smash, a fast-paced, alternately intriguing (the majesty of "Henrietta"; synth-drenched pop contender "Damaged Goods") and eye-rolling ("Reagan's Skeleton" verges on camp) mood-setter that doesn't coast so much as glide on listener goodwill. – Justin Strout
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