Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Baskervilles - Twilight - 2008


wilight, the Baskervilles' second full-length album, gathers together all the singles released via the Twilight 14 project into one big indie poptastic bite. And in many ways, this album could be seen as a real debut for the Baskervilles. Their sound is solidifying; they've meshed the jangly simplicity of their 2004 debut and the nocturnal synthiness of 2005's Midnight EP into the kind of rollicking, summery pop that nods to acts like the Shermans and Stereolab. And this is Twilight's main draw -- if the Baskervilles have anything, it's a knack for summery indie pop songs. One such song, "Caught in a Crosswalk," is far and away the album's best track. Jangly, upbeat, and shot through with just the right balance of synths and trumpets, it's the perfect showcase for vocalist Stephanie Finucane's shimmering vocals. Twilight finds the band experimenting with its catchy pop songs; the tracks are often embellished with layers of reverb and goopy chamber pop flourishes. This approach lends the album a level of complexity it might not have otherwise had; that said, it seems like the album would have been better off if the Baskervilles had held back from throwing in all the musical ideas they could. The sheer quantity of instrumental bric-a-brac on "Where Did My Summer Go?" (Trumpets! Spacy synthesizers! Crazy theremin-type effects! And an opera singer!) is interesting, to say the least, but in the end these touches end up distracting from the song's graceful, buoyant skeletal structure. The Baskervilles are ultimately at their best when they tone down the swollen synth effects and let their infectious pop hooks shine through. And thankfully, there are plenty of places where they do let them shine, especially when it comes to electrifying tracks like "A Little More Time" and "Smash." It's songs like these that make Twilight well worth a spin or two, especially for those who like their indie pop on the fun and sprightly side.-AMG

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