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You Are the One I Pick

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Album Review

Starting an album with a soft, reverb-heavy piano and vocal piece called "Death to Everyone But Us" might not seem completely congruous, but Felix obviously know their twisted adult pop as well as their drone contemplations — and given how the non-pigeonholed lineage of performers ranging from Laura Nyro and Scott Walker to Tori Amos and Nellie McKay now fills its own niche in musical history, why not this particular twist on it? Thus Felix's debut album, with singer/pianist/cellist Lucinda Chua and guitarist/percussionist Chris Summerlin creating music that might be one of the most atypical things released on the Kranky label without actually going against its now long-running aesthetic of moody, enveloping sounds. Chua's singing and playing occupy a space somewhere between direct forthrightness and dreamy wooziness, her vocals sometimes completely swirled into the ether, at other times her piano suddenly bursting forth to drive a song like "Waltzing for Weasels" forward in a rush. Summerlin's work is subtler in comparison but fleshes out the spare arrangements in calm fashion — when he fully breaks out on drums, quietly enough but still forcefully, as on "Back in Style," the effect in context is near shocking. Perhaps the strongest quality of the duo lies in their own relative inability to be easily summarized. While comparisons can be made, there's something quietly but persistently unique about the duo's work that suggests its own realm, quirky and wry but not simply a showcase for lyrical wit, gently swinging and twangy without losing a sense of calm hush.

You Are the One I Pick, Felix
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