by: Echoboy

With Giraffe, Echoboy commits to the ambitious synth pop that he flirted with on Volume One and Volume 2. While this may disappoint fans of his more experimental work, jettisoning that side of his sound gives Giraffe a focus and decisiveness that his previous albums lacked. Actually, Echoboy's more avant leanings aren't gone so much as incorporated into the album's '70s- and '80s-inspired vibe -- "Comfort of the Hum" turns tweaked synths; a crunchy, propulsive drumbeat; and sprightly pianos into a cross between Berlin-era Bowie and New Order, while "Summer Rhythm," with its skittering snares and chopped-up backing vocals, offers a more abstract, experimental twist on this sound. What makes Giraffe a subtly and increasingly compelling album is that Echoboy takes influences like Bowie, New Order, and Giorgio Moroder in a different direction than many other acts raiding synth pop for inspiration. The insistent opener, "Automatic Eyes"; the shimmering, slightly sinister "Hi Speed in Love"; and the acerbic "Good on TV" all showcase Echoboy's restless creativity as well as stronger songwriting than many other similarly inspired acts can claim. Though Giraffe is definitely Echoboy's most immediate and cohesive work, it's not perfect: the album takes a misguided turn toward the dark and overwrought on songs like "Lately Lonely" and "Wasted Spaces," both of which recall the harsher moments of Primal Scream's Evil Heat. It's not that these songs are bad, it's just that they aren't as interesting as the quirky, nervy electronic pop that preceded them. Nevertheless, Giraffe is an engaging album that delivers on the promise of Echoboy's previous work, albeit in unexpected ways. ~ Heather Phares

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