Swimming With Dolphins
This synth-based project from Austin Tofte, formerly affiliated with Owl City, blends a million indie-pop moves in mostly entertaining, occasionally toothache-inducing ways. “Easy” could be a ’90s rave anthem, while “Diplomat” sounds like one of those unfunny nerdy-white-guy covers of hip-hop songs (it’s not). “Jacques Cousteau” is VH1-ready fluff, with piano, drum machine and ’80s keyboard arpeggios adding up to a big cotton-candy ball of nothing—until a buzzing, Discovery-era Daft Punk-style keyboard solo mid-song vaults it into the land of awesomeness. Various female duet partners (Sarah Beintker on “Holiday” and “Sleep To Dream”; Sunsun on “Happiness”) transform already upbeat songs into ideal summer singles. Some might be tempted to blow this album off, fearing that it’s half-assed “chillwave” crap or just disappointed that “Holiday” isn’t a Madonna cover, “Good Times” (which features a guest rap verse by Mod Sun) is neither a Chic cover nor a version of the theme from the ’70s sitcom, and “Sleep To Dream” isn’t a Fiona Apple cover. Those would all be bad reasons to skip this record, which at its best reaches near-Pet Shop Boys levels of synth-pop brilliance (minus Neil Tennant’s heartbreakingly acerbic lyrical genius, of course).
Tooth & Nail http://www.toothandnail.com