Dayve Hawk has worn many hats over the years: Hail Social, Memory Cassette and, now, Memory Tapes. But even under his current guise, the New Jersey-based musician refuses to sit still. His debut rode the chillwave to blog love before going pop on his last LP, Player Piano. Hawk's latest, Grace/Confusion, once again flips the script, stretching the cleaned-up production and hooks of Player Piano over long, groove-based tracks that regularly clock in past the six-minute mark. The trick works well on opener "Neighbourhood Watch," which deftly blends a Madchester hangover with the ominous synth tones of The Fragile-era Nine Inch Nails. But the musical alchemy wears thin by third track "Safety"; it's overlong and filled with sonic references to micro-genres long gone (glitch beats or bouncing Postal Service bass), which feel included "just because…," as opposed to serving any functional purpose. Player Piano's concise songwriting allowed him to lean heavy on his rudimentary vocal melodies, something he tries too often here, to detrimental effects. Neither they nor the stale production can carry the eight minutes and 33 seconds of "Sheila." Grace/Confusion could have been a great 20-minute EP. Instead, it's a listless 40 minutes that works best as background music.
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