Fear of Men Loom

Fear of Men Loom
Brighton's Fear of Men have released a number of singles in their four years — handily gathered for last year's Early Fragments comp — but they've finally managed to get that debut album out. Originally born as an art project for singer/songwriter Jess Weiss, Fear of Men have flown below the dream/indie-pop radar, as Early Fragments was unjustly overlooked.

Loom may not arrive with the same kind of hype as darling peers like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart or Camera Obscura, but it has every bit of the whimsy and allure as either of those bands. Weiss' lyrics are disarmingly existential and lovelorn thoughts that achieve remarkable gravity alongside the jangling guitars and surging rhythms. But her voice is so mesmerizing and delicate, as heard on both versions of "Alta," you almost want to hear the entire album a cappella.

Both previously released tracks "Seer" and "Green Sea" benefit from re-recording, bolstering and cleaning up the production, but it's the new ones that show the band's progress, like the upbeat amiability of "Descent" and "Inside," the latter of which spirals into a blur of driving guitars and drums halfway through; it's a rare example of aggression that shows Fear of Men don't always have to be so refined.

Because their music is so diffident at times (imagine a younger, shier sibling of the Shop Assistants), Fear of Men face the danger of being mistaken as vanilla. But anyone who can get past the timid first impression will find plenty of fascinating layers and beautiful music to love on Loom. (Kanine)