The Morning Benders, 'Big Echo' (Rough Trade)

Big Echo
Critical Mass
Label: Rough Trade

by Jon Young

Evolving impressively, San Francisco's Morning Benders have conceived a captivating third album, making their earlier jangle pop seem puny by comparison.The lush production by Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor and Benders frontman Christopher Chu embeds the band's elaborate melodies in a colorful wall of sound-strings, booming drums, brisk guitars-that's both ethereal and immediate. Chu's sweet, high croon projects innocent vulnerability when he ponders life's rich pageant, especially on the dazzling "Excuses," where he coos, "We'll still be best friends when all turns to dust."Occasionally, the rich textures overwhelm the songs (see "Stitches"), but Big Echo is never less than intriguing.

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