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Amoral Certitides - EP

LD & The New Criticism

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Album Review

On their debut album, 2005's Tragic Realism, LD & the New Criticism seemed determined to channel the sound of leader L.D. Beghtol's friend and occasional bandmate Stephin Merritt's Magnetic Fields, right down to the conceit of having a grand theme for the album. The smaller scale Amoral Certitudes is a comparatively brief EP with no overarching throughlines, and more importantly, it dials back considerably on the Stephin Merritt comparisons. In their place, Beghtol and his associates create a sweet and sour form of chamber pop, on which his often sardonic lyrics mix comfortably with delicate, chiming tunes. Aside from a pair of brief trifles, the opening "Love Theme" and the Swingle Singers-like interlude "Light Verse," Amoral Certitudes consists of lyrically substantial, melodically rich tunes that nonetheless have a certain effervescence that pleasantly subverts their occasional darkness. It takes quite a bit to make a Lisa Germano cover sound like a lullaby, but this version of the singer/songwriter's typically gloomy "If I Think of Love" sounds perversely sweet. The EP's high point, however, is the glorious "What You Will," as winsome and adorable as a vintage Spanky & Our Gang single and featuring a lead vocal from Dana Kletter that reminds listeners of how long it's been since she's made a record of her own. Amoral Certitudes, according to its press kit, is merely a teaser EP released as a stopgap in advance of the real second LD & the New Criticism album due out in 2008, but it's a completely captivating release on its own merits.

Amoral Certitides - EP, LD & The New Criticism
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