F--k Buttons, 'Tarot Sport' (ATP)

Critical Mass
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by Jessica Suarez

They endorsed "Sweet Love for Planet Earth" on 2008's Street Horrrsing, but these Bristol, England hippies get leaner, cleaner, and more athletic on their follow-up. Sonically, they're still supreme noise crafters -- "The Lisbon Maru" (named for a World War II Japanese freighter sunk by an American sub) trades their debut's airy tribalism for military snares and horse clops. But with the scuzziness mostly gone, the duo's piebald melodies push up front ("Olympians" plucks a beautiful keyboard line from an organ haze). And album bookends "Surf Solar" and "Flight of the Feathered Serpent" even add sweaty dance beats, so the inevitable distorted fade-outs feel more like a cooldown than a meltdown.

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