Halou

Wholeness and Separation (Vertebrae Records)

Halou's woozily animated shoegaze-electro draws its anti-gravitas from Ryan Coseboom's found-noise-punctuated synths. They're usually found bobbing lazily along like ice cubes in the imaginary Big Gulp martini held by his singer/wife Rebecca, a pipe-cleaner-hair goth whose dreamy soprano evokes a Not-It girl holding up the bar wall as she waits for some dashing comic-book collector to appear out of nowhere and French-kiss her to death. Ryan's deft, sympathetic beats are further fleshed out with the help of (DJ Shadow engineer) Count, who, as of this third Halou release, appears to have gone beyond his hired-gun role, contributing mixing and rock drumming to the album. The basics cover what any fan of Cocteau Twins or related revivalists like Weed will dig — take away Collide 's fetish for metal guitars, crank the impulsive electroshocks, and there it is — but Rebecca's voice is a wild card, begging comparisons to both Jewel and Sarah McLaughlin. The tempo revs once to "I Will Follow" speed during album highlight "Stonefruit," a surprise hit of near-emo urgency.

 
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