MATTHEW DEAR DJs the WKD Beach Party Saturday (August 25) at Sugar Beach. See listing. Rating: NNN
Matthew Dear is among the very small handful of musicians who've been able to successfully straddle the techno and pop worlds. Beams, his fourth full-length, finds Dear moving further to the pop side, but in a gloomy mood. Much of the album recalls LCD Soundsystem's most overtly Bowie/Eno-inspired moments, but that's likely just a case of shared influences. And while Dear and LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy are both studio wizards, the former tends to operate more in the robotic world of samplers and sequencers compared to the warm live band feel of the latter's work.
There are great production touches all over Beams, but unfortunately the songwriting is just okay, and the arrangements often bury the best sonic details. It's when he forgets about emulating pop structure and goes for a more experimental dance-floor vibe on songs like Get The Rhyme Right that Beams comes alive, although the glitchy synth ballad Ahead Of Myself proves he can write a relatively straightforward pop tune, too.
Top track: Ahead Of Myself