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Expensive Looks – Dark Matters

on January 13, 2012, 7:59am
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Alec Feld, better known as Expensive Looks, has been releasing promising material on his own in New York City in lieu of his debut release; the album itself ends up wanting to be hard-hitting house music, but it has all the makings of charming trip hop and would do well with cozier characteristics more worthy of their own agenda and attitude.

Feld’s not making aggressive music here, though it seems he wants to. Comparisons to M83 are almost too easy to make– and deserved– but his voice is deeper and more distant than that of Anthony Gonzales. There is, however, almost no focus on lyrics making any decipherable waves. Virtually no melodies are to be found, and it takes a bit more than interesting harmonic walls of texture to bring out the best parts of Feld’s music.

The samples don’t really add much either, but Feld knows a thing or two about nomenclature and keeping a consistent visual brand – “Sea/Air” flutters by with synths riding on a Pacific Ocean breeze, the descending bass lines and church organs of “Nightfalls” slink through hazily and longingly, and the album’s cover is fittingly graced by silhouettes in celebration. The charm in Dark Matters comes not from its desire to be bombastic but from its strained harmonies and bass counterpoints. It’s apparent Feld is clued in on the complex relationships of notes and chords – why not treat them with precision?

For all its inconsistencies and uncertainties, Dark Matters has undeniable flow and progression, and it attempts to construct a sum greater than its parts. It half succeeds during the process, but leaves the listener a bit dazed as to what transpired. Feld obviously reveres the concept of a compact, concise LP, but he’d do well to follow through with the promise of strong, unique songs.

Essential Tracks: “Nothing More”, “Be My Own”

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