Mahogany - Connectivity!
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Mahogany released their debut album clear back in 1999. The Dream Of A Modern Day originally came out on Burnt Hair Records, but found a following and was eventually given a re-release on Darla a couple years later. A dream pop gem of an album, it managed to stand out amongst similar-sounding releases and marked the group as someone to keep an eye on. Over the years, they've released a slew of singles and EPs, most of which were released as a 2CD compilation (Memory Column) on Darla last year.

Connectivity! finds the group back in action, and it seems that the years between full length releases hasn't really slowed them down at all. Much more varied than their debut, this eleven track, forty-five minute release (a little longer if you count the bonus mixes and videos on the 2nd CD) is chocked-full of delicious hooks and more dreamy sounds than you can shake a stick at. "Tesselation, Formerly Plateau One" opens the release with a softly brimming waltz that shuffles quietly with cracking snares, looping keyboards and undulating waves of shimmering guitars.

Showing off a slightly different side of their sound, "Supervitesse" revs with a bouncy bass line, playful male/female vocals, and more subtle guitar work that pulls the track together nicely. From there, the album veers even more wildly as it progresses, but as it does so, the group shows off their range, along with sparkling, expansive production that serves their sound quite well. "Neo-Plastic Boogie-Woogie" sounds something like a Belle And Sebastian track drenched in reverb and remixed by Kevin Shields, with more male/female vocals blending with soaring sheets of guitar, chimes, a dry bass, and sprays of percussion pushing everything forward.

Although there are a few small head-scratching moments (the super-dark and sparse "Domino Ladder Beta" sounds a bit out-of-place on the album), but there are plenty of moments where the group is downright hard to beat. "My Bed Is My Castle" is one of those songs, a four-minute stunner that mixes live and programmed beats with heavenly guitars and vocals that unfold beautifully over a twisting bass. Meanwhile, the album closer of "Springtime, Save Our Country" is the closest thing that I've heard to a great Cocteau Twins track from a group not going by that name.

Speaking of the Cocteau Twins, the second disc in the set contains several connections to that group, including guitar work from Robin Guthrie on a great reworking of "Donimo Ladder Beta," as well as the vocal debut from Lucy Belle Guthrie (daughter of Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Frasier) on a different version of "My Bed Is My Castle." While only one of the three tracks on the second disc adds something of interest to the original, they (along with the three videos) are nice little bonuses on top of what is already a great album in and of itself. If you like dream pop, this is an album you must hunt down.

rating: 7.7510
Aaron Coleman 2006-11-09 21:17:07