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Scary World Theory

Lali Puna

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Album Review

Scary World Theory isn't a departure from the blueprint Lali Puna followed on Tridecoder. Indeed, it comes across like a more polished version of that album, adhering to the Morr Music tenets of melodic beauty and delicate beats. Frontwoman Valeria Trebeljahr still sounds like a long-lost sister to Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier, intoning gently over IDM on a somber winter evening, and the music sounds more than ever like a cross between early Stereolab, New Order caught in a mesmerizing funk, Múm, and Boards of Canada. The ten songs of Scary World Theory are somehow emotionally touching and improvisational in feel, while emanating from complex arrangements and mostly icy electronic instruments. A great deal of credit for the album's mood should probably go to Markus Acher, who moonlights in similar bastions of warmth yet emotional indifference the Notwist and Tied & Tickled Trio. Scary World Theory begins with a trilogy of songs fitted with jazzy piano, glitchy synths, and lush, crackling, and bubbly found-sounds that are as good as any electronic songs at the time of the album's release. Other highlights include the spooky "cookie monster" name-dropping throb of the title track, the warm, Pet Shop Boys-inspired dance grooves of "Lowdown," and the shuffling, multi-tiered melodies of "Don't Think." While the album doesn't always maintain one's interest over its running time, there are enough amazing songs that the album achieves greatness. The only fault one might find is that Trebeljahr sometimes tries too hard to sound like a figure of sociopolitical authority, but she winds up sounding more awkward than she probably intended. The album is at its best when Trebeljahr takes a breathy vocal approach and focuses on melodies over social commentary. As good as Scary World Theory is, and it is amazing in its pristine warmth, Lali Puna seems to have the potential to release an even more focused album that might define altogether the genre of ambient electronic pop.

Biography

Formed: 1998 in Munich, Germany

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

After the 1998 breakup of her previous band, the Munich-based L.B. Page, Korea-born vocalist Valerie Trebeljahr formed the experimental electro-pop group Lali Puna. Although Lali Puna was intended to be a solo project, it took on a membership that, throughout the years, included the involvement of Markus Acher (the Notwist, Tied + Tickled Trio), Florian Zimmer, Christian Heiss, and Christoff Brandner (also of Tied + Tickled Trio). The group's first release, "The Safe Side," was a single issued on...
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Scary World Theory, Lali Puna
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