There's something so delightfully, unrepentantly throwback-y about the new Astronomique EP, Self-Titled. Their first EP, Burning Stars Fade, had hints of that for sure, but still sounded relatively modern — kind of a synth-dance-Brooklyn-circa-now vibe.
This one ups the post-punk ante by like a 1,000 percent with an ass-ton of magnificently echo-driven guitar/bass interplay. Think: Siouxie and the Cure, with the emphasis on the brighter aspects of those bands rather than the goth, moody ones. Add in some vibes lifted from Cocteau Twins and Lush (always a good thing), plus sharpley danceable beats, and you have an EP pitched squarely at Minneapolis' dream-pop past.
It'd be a pleasant retro trifle if the songwriting wasn't so focused and hook-laden. Standouts include the bouncy, flange-tinged "Masquerade," and the gloriously arpeggiated "Until Daylight," which focuses on jagged keyboards and singer Logan Fongemie's matter-of-factly pretty vocals. And you bet "Like Junkies" is a Local Current radio hit waiting to happen, with its MBV-inspired keyboard riffing.
Downsides: occasionally homogeneous beats (happens to dance records sometimes, what are you gonna do?) and a couple of areas where beat quantization would have helped (it's tough to sound mechanical when things get off a little bit).
On the whole, though, Self-Titled is a fine addition to a psychedelic dream-pop scene that's felt a little dormant and tired lately. Beautiful.
- Jon Hunt