Romanian Names

Analog purist John Vanderslice pares down the electro-folk brilliance of his previous releases to embrace a more modest ingenuity on Romanian Names. The LP begins restlessly with the thickly layered tempest "Tremble And Tear," a subtle introduction to a collection shivering with clingy, new-wave left turns. The moodiness doesn't stop there; the short line between this album and 2007'sEmerald City might be "Fetal Horses," which arcs a gloomy/lovely melody with Vanderslice's fluid voice acting as narrator. Romanian teeters from bristling pop tracks (the ridiculously catchy "C&O Canal"), to gutter-glum compositions (the slightly Cure-ish "Too Much Time"), creating an emotionally draining, if not completely scintillating, listen. There's an overt embracement of vintage songcraft, and a few tracks would have certainly found welcoming ears in other eras. Be glad they're here now.

Dead Oceans