Vehicles of Travel
It’s a pretty easy bet that The Curtains will never attain the title of “accessible,” but Vehicles of Travel moves them decidedly in that direction. Knowing that the group is comprised of members of Deerhoof and Natural Dreamers should give an uninitiated listener some clue as to what sort of dissected pop they’re about to be splattered with. Sticky-sweet melodies run high throughout the disc, but the band willfully slaps the sounds together so quickly the result is quite disorienting. As with the band’s previous releases, it’s almost as if it’s forbidden for any idea to gestate beyond the two-and-a-half minute mark. Still, this time around it’s much easier to spot cohesive ideas and attempts at conventional song structure. Some of the focus comes thanks to the inclusion of lyrics and the almost baroque, lilting phrasing the band wraps around the vocal tracks, nowhere more so than on the Appalachian-esque “Hooligans.” Even the instrumentals — especially “City of Paris” and “The Gadabouts” — have a clearer sense of purpose, borrowing heavily from their 8-bit analog brethren in The Advantage and their video game angularity. It all adds up to Vehicles of Travel being hopefully the first step on The Curtains’ route to finding the balance between abstract experimentalism and listener-friendliness.