Midnight Movies Midnight Movies

Bands usually live and die by a formula. Some survive by making chameleon-like shifts of genre or sound, but most stick stubbornly to what works, like a SNL skit that garners a single laugh and gets stretched out over nine seasons, long after the laughs have died. L.A's Midnight Movies, one of last year's endless number of "next big thing" bands, are shaping up to be one of these latter groups, even if this is only their debut. But it takes a latter-day Stereolab shot at uniformity, and in more ways than just Gina Oliver's fey vocals, which also recall equal parts Nico and Blonde Redhead's Kazu Makino. Musically, their palette is one of a sedated Enon or a complacent Broadcast, often letting each song flutter in before picking up its pace for a climax that may, or far more often may not, deviate from any number of the album's other lovely melodies. There are exceptions, of course ("Just To Play" in particular channels Clinic), but it's their dedication to a series of minor deviations that makes the record both immensely promising for those that take instantly to their sound, and needlessly frustrating for those that find their impact blunted by waves of repetition. (Emperor Norton)