Stamen & Pistils Twns

On this Washington, DC band’s second album, there is a definite maturation of sound and mood that makes these songs an interesting listen, but it all seems a little thin in the end. Equally at home hammering out some lo-fi acoustic chords as they are tweaking some glitch-y beats, the mix of the two threatens to become some type of folktronica but, luckily, the band always know when to pull back. Opener "Second Hand Valise” strikes the best balance and is the most engaging song, as the beats, voice, piano and guitar all come together for a beautiful slice of depressing pop. Actually, one of the best things on this album is the atmosphere and dark mood that is achieved through the songs. "Hands Washing Water” gives a good, creepy vibe with its open ambient feedback intro and dull beats combined with repeating guitar and low vocal delivery. Even when they move away from the electro tricks, as in the plaintive "An Elegy for Thee,” Stamen & Pistils have a crystal clear vision of their songs and what they hope to achieve with this album. However, while their thematic ambition is admirable and they succeed quite well, the songs never feel as meaty or urgent as they should. (Echelon)