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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

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
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Renfro
Mathematics
Meltwater

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


October 23, 2008
Found-sound is one of the most interesting musical genres out there. The sheer notion of artists creating music with recycled, otherwise destined-to-be-forgotten real-world sounds is thrilling. When it works, what results is like a musical time capsule, where sounds, beats and noise from past times are allowed to bloom again. Unfortunately, found-sound constructions have a tendency to be a wee bit too academic and experimental; at times the simplicity of beats and melodies are lost (or intentionally left behind) to the labor of recycling sounds.

Even the most creative art can be doomed to obscurity if there is nothing to make it memorable. To that end, reverting to an established genre to add more savory bits to the mix can yield a very successful and tasty cake. The UK-based Renfro, with their mix of found-sound and dream-pop, are a prime example of such a recipe. Any fan of Slowdive will instantly latch on to the taste of the band's batter, a mellow and dreamy experience laced with interesting sounds, beats and soundscapes. Renfro's sound experiments create something that feels new, recycled, and familiar all at the same time.

Mathematics, the band's latest release, features a dozen tracks, each and every one is a solid balance of found-sound and dream-pop. There are no tracks fit for extensive radio play, nor are there any chart toppers on the album, which will come as no big surprise since the formula for dreamy noise collages hasn't topped the charts since 2004. Commercial success be damned, there are some really good songs on Mathematics.

Album opener "Half-life of Happiness" is a tight, dreamy little pearl that dives deep into the rich layered sounds of the album; one listen to this track and you will feel an instant urge to find out what else Renfro has to offer. Halfway through the album, "Illuminations" is yet another standout song that will remind even the most attention deficient to keep listening. Five tracks later the closer "Traces," wrapping up the whole experience in a tight little box, invites the listener to unwrap the album again, for another full hour of dreamlike songs.

Although the very mention of found-sound experimentalism might set off pretentiousness alarms for those who have not acquired a taste for it, Renfro has managed to steer away from the hang-ups of the genre; by mixing in ample portions of poppiness they've created some very sweet and catchy songs. For any connoisseur of experimental/shoegaze/found-sound/dream-pop confections, Renfro's Mathematics offers blue-ribbon flavor.

Reviewed by Daniel Svanberg
A contributing writer for LAS, Daniel Svanberg now lives in Boston, far far away from Sweden, where he once lived, although the weather is the same.

See other reviews by Daniel Svanberg

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