Review: Real Swell - "Adults"

Real Swell - Adults
(2015 Self-Released)

On the surface, Real Swell's most recent album appears to be yet another tape's worth of fuzz-laden twee, but attentive listening reveals the marbled blend of textures and influences that doesn't so much break the bedroom-pop mold as it does create a unique, heterogeneous recipe within that said mold. Kris Lavin, the head chef behind the London-based solo project, starts with a flaky pie crust of Teen Suicide's signature no-fi aesthetic, dripping with reverby angst. Within the crust sits a gelatinous pool of nostalgic flavors, from Ariel Pink's tongue-in-cheek glam goofiness - appearing quite prominently on the bouncy punk tune, "Puppy Party" - to antiquated cuts of synth pop like "Computer Dreams" and "Gifts", both of which bear a striking resemblance to Yazoo, the early 80s new wave duo comprised of Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet. There are also quite a few tracks that throw back to the inception of Brooklyn's Captured Tracks label, employing the wiry guitar tone often associated with acts like Blank Dogs, Beach Fossils and Christmas Island. Adults' 16 tracks are filled with screwball experimentation and charm, making for a release that grips one's attention throughout. Despite the record's consistency, its title track is a standout cut by far, trudging forward with moaning keyboards that bear the haunting spookiness of a Merrie Melodies soundtrack.