Sun Airway Soft Fall

Sun AirwaySoft Fall
Sun Airway is hardly the first artist to blend the immediacy of synth pop with the sweeping grandeur of orchestral music (M83 is a notable current example), but few albums juxtapose the antiquated with the modern as starkly as Soft Fall. The collection opens with "Activity 1," a short instrumental snippet that builds from string swells to a flickering electro beat. This sets the tone for the collection, which features everything from chopped-up orchestrations ("Wild Palms") to thudding club beats ("Soft Fall"). On closer "Over My Head," it's difficult to tell when the strings end and the synths begin, making for a woozy, slightly disoriented sonic swirl. Despite songwriter Jon Barthmus's debt to classic new wave, this sophomore disc is more about texture than melody, and listeners are more likely to be impressed with his hazy soundscapes than his chorus hooks. Although a few sing-along numbers would have been nice, the album sounds gorgeous enough to make up for it. (Dead Oceans)