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Merchandise - Lo-Tech Solutions To Hi-Tech Problems

‘Lo-Tech Solutions To Hi-Tech Problems’ won’t play on my flighty thoroughbred of a CD player or in my laptop, but it spins along merrily on the generic Dixons-stylee hi-fi ‘system’ in the kitchen. This is one perfectly named album. Merchandise (named after a Fugazi song, coo-ell) have married electronica and acoustica into a collection of gorgeous pop wistfulness.

Like The Clientele, Merchandise create pattering, caressing, daydreamy music that conjures up an England of rain-washed colours and pale sunlight. Cymbals snick, pianos tinkle meditatively, odd beats and samples give the sound a bit of a roughing up behind Brad’s gentle, reproachful vocals. According to the sleeve-notes, featured amongst the instruments is a ‘trazoo’. Qué??

The songs are divided into short trips into a pensive mind via narratives bathed in lyrical melancholia (perfect example, ‘Beautiful Morning For A Bad Day’) and curious, memory-triggering instrumentals. ‘Sunday Song’ is the sound of whisking along on a train (hey, it might happen), on a Spring morning, luxuriating in the feeling of being nowhere. Small but perfectly formed instrumental ‘The Last Stand of Pucho Vasquez’ sneaks in like an out-take from the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack. ‘Winter’ is layers of susurration floating down to build up like snowfall. The perfect music-box delicacy of final track ‘Morning After’ leaves you gazing into the middle distance, spaced out on your own introspection. Always a good way to end.

RRRG: Secure foolish downdraft

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