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Two Windows
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  • After a long break during which vocalist Valerie Trebeljahr took time out to attend to family and career, and bandmember Markus Acher left, Lali Puna returned with their fifth album, Two Windows. While previous albums had been a balance of dreamy, post-Stereolab indie and smooth electronic pop, this time out the balance tilts in the direction of the former. There are barely any guitars left in the mix, the beats are sleek and robotic, and the synths are plentiful. Guests like Dntel, Keith Tenniswood of Two Lone Swordsmen, and Mary Lattimore contribute to an album that pulses with warm currents and barely breaks a sweat. The burbles of vintage-sounding synths and the crackling programmed drums line up perfectly with the smartly played live drums, percolating bass, and Trebeljahr's wonderfully sleepy vocals. While most of the record is pitched just above "soundtrack for a nap," there are the occasional uptempo tracks that could fill the floor at a more liberal dance club. "Wonderland"'s propulsive handclaps, stuttering vocals, and swishing percussion add up to a nice groove, the title track has a homemade house feel and a sturdy 4/4 beat, and their unfaithful cover of Kings of Leon's "The Bucket" moves along at a brisk pace without messing up the melancholy nostalgia of the lyrics. Mostly, though, the record is coffee-shop mellow and glazed-pastry sweet. Trebeljahr's vocals are sweet without being sickly; she provides the quietly beating heart beneath the carefully constructed electropop. The peaceful approach she takes on a song like "Everything Counts On" is incredibly soothing, the sprightly ease with which she follows the bouncing sounds on "Come Out Your House" is impressive, and she never breaks the mood with a false note. The whole trio is locked in to the mission and sound, making this one of their more focused albums. It may lack some of the dynamics of earlier works, and the focus is sometimes too tightly wound up and could stand to be a little looser, but overall it's a fine addition to the slowly building body of excellent work Lali Puna have taken their time crafting. ~ Tim Sendra
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