Velveteen 27

Velveteen made headlines as part of an April Fool's Day joke in 2008 when their album, Home Waters, was passed around online as Death Cab for Cutie's new, unreleased record. Hopefully that playful hoax gave the German four-piece a greater audience, because their follow-up is begging for listeners. Velveteen spent 27 weeks in the studio recording their fourth full-length, birthing the title of the release. Yes, it does smell of early DCFC influences: the fuzzed-out guitars and keyboard and synth parts laying down a palette for Carsten Schrauff's earnest vocals. Songs such as "I Divided Europe" and "Cars" are eerily reminiscent of Ben Gibbard's work. But the band go beyond their Death Cab admiration and add elements such has horn arrangements and an intangible sense that they're yearning for their emotional pull to go beyond the boyish vocals and beautiful lull of layered guitars, combined with lush keys ("Final"). It's a gorgeous display that should be experienced. (Fuego)