April 21, 2010

Stripmall Architecture – Feathersongs For Factory Girls (Part One)

Stripmall Architecture
Feathersongs For Factory Girls
Self-Released; 2010

At first, I didn’t quite enjoy the five songs that comprise Feathersongs For Factory Girls, as I found the music to be too downcast and moody for my liking. It’s not that I didn’t dig the downtempo goth-flavored electro-pop, but more that the music of Stripmall Architecture initially hit me as being as being a bit too repetitive and dependent upon its influences. Then, as I began to dig beneath the surface, I found this treasure trove of sonic nuggets that proved to be much more interesting that the little pebbles that prompted me to start exploring the band’s sound. Dense, fuzzy bass thumps are paired with lush keyboard swells and then serve as buoyancy for the mysteriously sultry female vocals, all while guitar flourishes and squawks cascade in the background.

Cuts like “Radium,” “Is This Science?,” and “Sing Along, My Children” are stark offerings with moods that are perfect for rainy afternoons and insular evenings. The spacey atmospherics might paint a melancholy image, but it remains free of the morbid, morose, and macabre. To whit, the key lyric on the record is from “There’s Only So Much Light,” the droning fourth song, which intones “There’s only so much light. You take more than your share,” several times to end the track.

This quartet might be from San Francisco, CA, but the EP is at once grey and British in tone, and then serene and Scandinavian in feel. Stylistically, Stripmall Architecture does mix together key aspects of Galaxie 500, Portishead, Air, and The xx, but it manages to shape its own identity by recasting those influences through the lens of dark ‘80s pop. The most impressive part of Feathersongs For Factory Girls, what makes me eager to hear what the band has planned next, is in how the music can sound oh so gloomy, but never comes across as the work of some sort of creepy, antisocial iconoclast. There are no faux-goth mallrats to be found in this shopping center.

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