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My My - Songs for the Gentle

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Artist: My My

Album: Songs for the Gentle

Label: Playhouse

Review date: Dec. 3, 2006

It's hard to listen to the debut album from My My and not think about Isolée. Both acts share not only a label (Playhouse) and a German base, but also a gooey playfulness. The beats come crisp and clipped, beaded across a chugging trajectory, all within an infinitely elastic microverse. But while Isolée, a vessel solely piloted by Rajko Mueller, found wholly other dimensions with every turn of 2005's seminal Wearemonster, My My's Songs for the Gentle - a passenger vehicle road-tripping with three drivers (Lee Jones, Carsten Klemann, Nick Höppner) taking turns at the wheel - blissfully slinks along a single aeriform plane.

A tinny pixel clangs like a cowbell on opener "Clean Break" as a female voice stutters a murmuring lilt amid a churning flux occasionally streaked by guitar. "When it Rains" renders its title rather literally as a stream of frosted color is shrouded by a twinkling cold mist. There are bursts of processed voice - clanging as if bouncing off warped sheets of tin and ricocheting back into audibility as brassy blows - over a shimmering carpet of nano-rhythm. Though they play with sampled content like putty - time-stretching groans until they become ribbed currents, slicing six-strings into electric flecks and even throwing in some clattering silver that could either be hand cymbals or just a rotary phone - My My don't go full-on plunderphonic until "Secret Life of Pants." Whistles pipe, an accented man mutters, snares rolls and a huge chunk of some big band performance is played like a single, phantom note. Elsewhere, last year's "Serpentine" is reprised alongside "Got It," the only vinyl sides that make it onto My My's long-player. Aptly named, "Serpentine" winds and slithers with a rattling momentum, its throttling engine gurgling titanium, as it zips down the autobahn.

Though its cover - framed like a polaroid for intensified wistfulness - and title may evoke pastoral serenity, the operative element of Songs for the Gentle's packaging is not grass-stained organica (the surfaces here are industrial-strength steel, glass and rubber) but that its 12 tracks are all truly songs (or their acute likenesses). Lingering in the 4- to 6-minute spectrum, less pop singles than album-oriented compositions, they are the compact alternatives to arpeggiated sprawl: ecstatic levity instead of journeying superlongevity.

By Bernardo Rondeau

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