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Neuroplasticity is the perfect example of an album in which an artist's sound evolves (by leaps) but her essential spirit remains.
Cold Specks's anticipated follow-up to her excellent gospel-indebted folk-soul debut, I Predict A Graceful Expulsion, is a much louder, much more rock 'n' roll, much more experimental experience; fuzz and feedback and unexpected elements (like synths on Let Loose The Dogs) constantly make things more interesting.
Loel Campbell's drumming is close to the heart of most tracks, carrying songs like A Broken Memory, Bodies At Bay and prog rock standout A Formal Invitation with slightly ominous momentum. (On the last of these, a standout turn from Chris Cundy on bass clarinet must also be recognized.) Lyrically, the mood remains dark, though the artist sounds more sure of herself. "I remain unshakable," she asserts on A Quiet Chill (which isn't quiet). The final song is a throwback to album one: Specks's quavering alto is the focal point, backed sparsely by piano and sad horns. "And we move like wolves in the bleak night," she sings, while a creepy lupine voice accompanies her. A solemn but satisfying finish.
Top track: A Formal Invitation