Dead Media

Too Pure / Beggars Banquet

Looks like Hefner’s been sacking garage sales for vintage gear, and I can really appreciate this turn of events. While the last couple of Hefner records have been packed solid with the band’s exemplary songwriting, I’ve found them hard to appreciate on anything beyond the most basic emotional level — excellent songs, they just don’t pull at my heart in the way that older tracks like “The Librarian” and “Hymn for the Cigarettes” do.

Dead Media brings keyboards — albeit old ones, analoggy ones — into the mix, with spectacular results. Off-beat Hefner-esque topics like “Alan Bean” take on new dimension, as Darren Hayman’s notorious quaver comes in Mission Control-style and marvels at the fourth man on the moon and his painting-filled retirement, all this amidst comb filter whooshes and delicate high square waves. “Trouble Kid” has a trouble kid sample for a snare, which is about as straightforward as Hefner gets here. “Union Chapel Day,” in contrast, is a minute of burbling analog composition, gentle and wondering. “When The Angels Play Their Drum Machines” recall fellow Scots Looper, with its carefully ornamented beat and low-key vocalization.

Dead Media is a textbook case of a band reinventing themselves. Some so-called fans may find themselves turned off by the newly layered and oscillated Hefner, but it’s undeniable that the band’s core skills — the ability to turn a simple melody into an unforgettable memory, or to string words together into simultaneous heartbreak and joy — are going strong and still developing.

Too Pure: http://www.toopure.com • Beggars Banquet: http://www.beggars.com/us • Hefner: http://www.hefnet.com • Dead Media: http://www.deadmedia.org • Alan Bean: http://www.novaspace.com/AUTO/Bean.html

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