L'Altra In the Afternoon

The second full-length by Chicago soft pop band L’Altra is an album at rest. It won’t be popped in for revving up, nor even really for coming down — it’s a still masterpiece that requires time, attention and a horizontal listening position to be fully appreciated. It’s slow to unfurl its beauty, and its surface of calm is deceptive, but with a little boost in volume and an unhurried approach, In the Afternoon is one of the loveliest rest stops around. Beneath the surface of this follow-up to 2000’s Music of a Sinking Occasion, you’ll find a plethora of beautifully layered instruments: cello, accordion, pedal steel, trumpet and more. It’s a more orchestra, less pop version of the Sea and Cake, perhaps, or Tortoise without the horn-rimmed glasses and time signature fetish. It verges on easy listening — that is, the type of pleasant music listened to by people who don’t like music — but that façade is deceptive. Lie back and let yourself be fooled. (Aesthetics)