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Chunnel Autumnal

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Album Review

London-based indie pop duo Pipas' Chunnel Autumnal was first issued on the tiny U.K. label Long Lost Cousin in 2001; Matinee reissued it in 2005 with the addition of three bonus tracks. The album is skeletal but charming; Mark Powell and Lupe Nuñez-Fernandez use many of the requisite indie pop ingredients (cheap synths and drum machines, intimate and sometimes awkward lyrics, plangent guitar lines boosted from New Order records, and more melancholy than you could fit in a badge-covered backpack), but use them with a style and grace most bands their stature can't conjure up. The eight songs that make up the original release are a nonstop weepfest wrapped in delicate and memorable melodies; "Moss Oval," which sounds like an easygoing Field Mice, the desolate and heart-smashed ballad "The Bobby," and the rollicking "Tout Va Bien" stand out, but all the songs are first-rate indie pop. The three bonus tracks come from the band's first Matinee single, A Short Film About Sleeping, and show a small leap from lo-fi to mid-fi, but a small drop in the songwriting department. The songs sound just a touch forced and don't flow as well as the more intimate earlier material. A small drop just lowers them to very good instead of really good, so it really shouldn't be used against the band. If you dug their first album for Matinee, you will definitely want to get this album, too.

Chunnel Autumnal, Pipas
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