Even more than their debut LP No Mas, Brooklyn duo Javelin have built their reputation on a slate of high energy remixes, turning even moody bands like Warpaint into party starters. On their sophomore album, Hi Beams, George Langford and Tom Van Buskirk vacillate between glittering cactus click-clack send-ups reminiscent of those remixes and cutesy electro-pop.
Lead track “Nnormal” exemplifies that dichotomy early in the record. The complex blend of spiky guitar, telegram beeps, auxiliary percussion, and deep sub-bass that open the track get the body moving — something like a dubstep take on a Dirty Projectors track. But the duo’s vocoded children’s rhymes (“Sentences winking in the stars / How I wonder just what you are?”) stop every movement but the eyebrow, raising it quizzically.
The arena rock roaring “Judgement Nite” sounds suited for the ice entrance of Disney’s The Mighty Ducks. Stuttering bass and overdriven guitar propel “Friending” over the top, the saccharine harmonies far back enough in the mix that they add seasoning rather than overpower. Nothing, though, achieves this blend as succinctly as album highlight “l’Ocean”, where its off-kilter time signature, beat-heavy production, and falsetto vocals pleasantly evoking Panda Bear.
Funky, infectious production is the life-blood of Hi Beams, keeping a steady ground under simple vocal melodies, as on “Drummachines”. The song’s lithe verses play counterpoint to staccato synths, the talk of midnight rides “falling over drum machines” veering strongly toward the twee.
This tendency permeates the disc, occasionally overtaking the fact that the backing tracks hit such varied tones. As evidenced by their remixes, the instrumental tracks here, and some of the pithier vocals, Javelin are high-caliber producers; their lyrics and melodies just haven’t matched that intensity.
Essential Tracks: “l’Ocean”