White Hinterland Phylactery Factory

White Hinterland Phylactery Factory
Though I’ve tried to love it anew, Tori Amos’s Boys for Pele just doesn’t sound the way it did when I was 13. I think I’ve finally found a replacement in Phylactery Factory, the brainchild of 22-year-old Casey Dienel, a classically trained pianist with a dark side but a light hand. The Dead Oceans label has been on a roll lately, as far as churning out compelling releases: Phosphorescent’s Pride got "ethereal” just right, and Dirty Projectors’ Rise Above was based on a great concept (a "re-imagining” of the Black Flag album from memory). White Hinterland doesn’t upset the pattern. Phylactery Factory is not what you’d expect: it’s not folk, it’s not ’90s-style indie rock and it’s not inaccessible noodling. What else could it be? Quiet, pretty, jazz-inflected piano pop with a noir side that pops up just often enough to hold the listener who’s weary of playing records their mother might like too. Feist is another obvious comparison, although Dienel is more demure and more instrument-oriented than the current queen of parent/child crossover pop. It’s an unexpected surprise to hear a new record that sounds nothing like almost everything else currently receiving attention, and a very pleasant one at that. Dienel’s songs are at once subdued and affective, and her unassuming voice is perfectly suited to her beautiful piano work. Most importantly, she doesn’t sing about faeries. (Dead Oceans)