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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
West Indian Girl
4th & Wall

Rating: 8.7/10 ?

October 23, 2007
You'd be mistaken if you think West Indian Girl refers to the same act you met three years ago. Formerly a duo, consisting of current bassist Francis Ten and then guitarist Robert James, the outfit's eponymous debut, full of psychedelic shoegazing and dense, drugged-out Californian pop, was released by Astralwerks in 2004, and supported by a live touring band full of keyboardists. Now grown up, West Indian Girl has seen the addition of four other instrumentalists for the creation of their lush, cohesive sophomore effort, a work detailing a sound that has matured in spades.

Having developed into a true band but retained their West Coast air, West Indian Girl dubbed their follow-up 4th & Wall, a reference to the warehouse location in Los Angeles where they crafted the effort and but one part of the Californism that dominates the release. In keeping with the Beach Boys-esque flavor of their debut, tracks like "Blue Wave" ride a tidal wave of sunny synth pop, ebbing and flowing na-na-na's, and surf lyricism. The vibe of "Indian Ocean," perfect for a late night coastal drive, floats along on meteoric samples and is one of the most potent uses of new vocalist Amy Welch's fine harmonies. The beautiful "Back To You," with its staccato rhythm laid over early Josh Rouseian acoustics, finds James' uneven vocals in a perfect, winsome delivery, with strings that arrive to help maintain the album's overall sense of buoyancy amidst the track's musty sorrow.

When asked about that jubilant Californism and the ocean breeze wafting through the West Indian Girl sound, Francis Ten was recently quoted on the band's Myspace page as saying, in reference to the Pacific, that "I just think it becomes a part of you," to which James added, "it's funny how being close to a massive ocean seeps into your consciousness." The laid-back, easy breezy vibe of the Golden State is evidenced throughout 4th & Wall, from its sunny harmonies to the lonely, plaintive waves occasionally crashing against its rocky shores. Having taken three years since the release of West Indian Girl to muscle through lineup changes, with only a remix EP to show for the time since, West Indian Girl have made a welcome late-year resurgence with 4th & Wall, and in the process they have created what could be considered a darkhorse contender for Album of the Year.

Reviewed by Matt Conner
A contributing writer, Matt Conner lives in Anderson, Indiana.

See other reviews by Matt Conner



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