April Music Reviews: Holy Ghost!, Panda Bear, Foo Fighters

Holy Ghost!, Holy Ghost! (DFA) The self-titled debut from Holy Ghost! arrives dutifully crafted, four years after their breakout track, 2007’s “Hold On.” In that time, New York natives and childhood friends Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser have toured with Chromeo and LCD Soundsystem, and have released a buzzworthy foursong EP entitled Static on the Wire. The album’s lead single, “Do It Again,” jump-starts the 10-track full-length with thumping bass lines, warped disco beats, and the hum of ’80s synthesizers, while songs like “Say My Name” incorporate a darker layer of post-punk edge. Although we’ve tried to kill the word, the new Holy Ghost! album is heavenly and at times, yes, ethereal. —Nadeska Alexis

The Duke Spirit, Bruiser (Shangri-La) With a babe as delicious as lead vocalist Liela Moss—who once played muse to the late Alexander McQueen—it would be easy for a band like the Duke Spirit, a five-piece from London, to lie back and rest on their comely laurels. But every bit of Bruiser—from its disparate influences to its choral harmonies strung over heavy bass lines—pulls you in for an experience charged with sex, guitars, and cool English detachment. Languorously slow and sensitive in parts, growly and seductive at others, the Duke Spirit’s third studio album justifies all those comparisons to My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. Bruiser is no misnomer. It’ll take you down. And it’ll win. —Anna Duckworth

Xylos, Xylos (1000x) Xylos is the rare Brooklyn band that traffics almost exclusively in feel-good rhythms and uplifting melodies, and this polished debut LP might just be a clever ploy to make scowling New Yorkers smile. “Darling Dearest” is a breezy blend of synth, guitar, and drums, with vocalist Monika Heidemann singing, “We’re just here to experience one another.” Amen, girl. “Not Enough,” meanwhile, seems bound for scores of beachhouse mixes, with its romantic pleas for something more than a one-night stand providing the perfect soundtrack to summer love. They may just be beautiful liars, but it’s a useful fiction. —Caroline Seghers

An Horse, Walls (Mom + Pop) An Horse seeks to rescue pop from the gumball machine, with stripped-down guitars, effervescent beats, and restive vocals. The brainchild of Australians Kate Cooper and Damon Cox, An Horse got a major boost from indie darlings Tegan and Sara, who employed them as an opening act in 2008 and signed them to their record label the following year. Walls, their second full-length album, is an inspired display of uncomplicated style. “Dressed Sharply” kicks off the album with a bang, setting a tone of pop-rock nostalgia, while “Trains and Tracks” has an infectious chorus and fast beat that take you back to the days of sneaking out in your parents’ car, consequences be damned. Though there’s an undercurrent of simmering anger, Walls brims with youthful optimism. —CS

Panda Bear, Tomboy (Paw Tracks) As expected, the latest offering from Animal Collective brainiac Noah Lennox sounds as if it were composed of instruments that haven’t yet been invented. Tomboy’s expansive landscape is littered with noises new to most human ears. (For aliens, this stuff is old hat.) The most familiar sound on the record is Lennox’s voice, or voices, since he revisits his eerie tendency to multiply harmonies on nearly every track. An exception is the haunting “Scheherazade,” a sequel of sorts to Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song,” in which Lennox wails from the abyss accompanied by what sounds like a whale having an orgasm. Like Animal Collective’s eighth studio album, 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, some songs verge on dance music. “Afterburner” pulsates with a drowned-out beat, and “Slow Motion” is what hiphop would sound like if it was made by, well, Panda Bear. —Ben Barna

Foo Fighters, Wasting Light (Roswell/RCA) Few musicians age as gracefully as Dave Grohl. Since emerging from the shadow of Nirvana more than 15 years ago, the multi-instrumentalist has built a rich and prolific second career as the frontman and creative soul of Foo Fighters, delivering satisfyingly aggressive albums and live shows that replace teenage angst with the easy confidence of rock veterans having a blast. On Wasting Light, the band’s seventh release, Foo Fighters keep it loud, with fuzzy guitars, heavy bass lines, and relentless drums. “Rope,” the album’s first single, is four minutes of blissfully beer-soaked noise, while “Arlandria” showcases Grohl’s mastery of restraint, alternating heartfelt poetry with defiant rage. “I Should Have Known,” featuring former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, contains echoes of the grunge pioneers’ emotional past, but ultimately trades yesterday’s pain for tonight’s party. If you listen to this while driving, watch your speed. —Victor Ozols

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Belong (Slumberland/Collective Sounds) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart rose to prominence in 2007 with an EP that earned comparisons to classic shoegaze acts like the Stone Roses and the Smashing Pumpkins. On their second album, Belong, the New York-based quartet comes into its own with a refined collection of songs that layer sanguine guitars and shamelessly poppy lyrics (“She was the heart in your heartbreak/ She was the miss in your mistake”) over metronomic indie beats. The title track is a lightning storm of reverb and sexy whispers, equally suited for sweaty house parties and clandestine makeout sessions. —AD

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