PASSENGER PERU (Fleeting Youth Records)

When I put this tape in for the first time, and noted that the main song crafter of the group was formerly a bassist for The Antlers (a band I’ve found somewhat underwhelming), I was tempted to write this off as an unexciting indie pop offering before even giving the sounds a chance. Within thirty seconds of the first song I felt like an asshole for thinking that, and I was won over immediately. On the surface the format for the songs is pretty standard, the kind of fun-time music for driving to the beach with your friends. That formula is easy to execute, what makes this a great tape is that underneath the surface the two multi-instrumentalists manning this band flesh out these tracks with inventive and hypnotic song structures and instrumentation. Over the span of these 10 songs, they manage to glue onto a poppy assemblage an assortment of buzzy bass riffs, chugging guitar passages, lush vocals, fuzzed out countrified licks, mechanized drum rhythms and sparse electronic noise. It’s enough variation to make each track exciting, free of filler, and quite danceable. Apparently the product of three years of basement studio work, this EP is clearly the work of two perfectionists fiddling with every song component until it fit the goldilocks standard of just right. Some of these tracks are genuine ear worms. In the Absence of Snow has been stuck in my head for days, thanks to it’s combination of sparkly acoustic guitar and thumping sub octave bass. It’s locked in my head and it doesn’t want to leave and this is a good thing. Very much recommended.

-- Timothy Johnson