City Center City Center

The same shifty restlessness that made Saturday Looks Good to Me such an undervalued pop curiosity blossoms at the heart of Fred Thomas' City Centre. Parts of this eponymous debut have the feel of a pillow fight where exploded feathers touch off loops of mbira, gamelan and then unexpectedly drop like rhythmic hammers. It takes a few tracks for the disparate elements to synch but "Bleed Blood" succeeds by shunting the acoustics and embracing the Panda Bearishness of sweet and sticky tug-of-war layers. The wall of noise on "Cloud Center" is an appropriately nebulous one that's the aural equivalent of the debris that circles Saturn. Even in varied states of deliquescence, the hard pop core of each track retains enough form to survive declassification. "Young Diamond" sounds like a wet dream Kevin Drew wishes he could remember and closer "Unfinished Hex" proves there is a machine inside the ghost with its more minimalist guitar/vocal approach. Get your pillows ready. (Type)