Call And Response Winds Take No Shape

A beautiful patchwork of Stereolab’s spatial lounge pop productions, Low’s love of and sense for vocal harmonies and the light pop-folk of the Cowboy Junkies, Call and Response’s sophomore record finds the group finally choosing and exploring a single direction. And though this also means that Winds has far less variation than their debut, the album’s concise length and uniformly strong songwriting — hitting its true stride with the bouncy twee pop of "Landscapes” and "Eclipse” — make this a promising step forward. They still haven’t finely tuned their sound, as parts of it sometimes fall into needless repetition, and the decidedly sparse arrangements often feel just as awkward as they are compelling — though, to their credit, in a few cases, like the excellent Joni Mitchell homage "Silent Chill,” the inconspicuously mixed synths and multi-part harmonies sound terrific as the lone garnishes. It’s not the most immediate or exciting release you could hear this year, but for fans of the dreamy pop with a heavy Stereolab influence, it doesn’t get much better than this. (Badman)