The Cansecos - Juices!
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The Cansecos
Juices!

Although they haven't exactly been prolific, Upper Class Recordings has always managed to put out quality electronic pop. Their most recognizable act is probably The Russian Futurists (mainly Matthew Adam Hart), but The Cansecos also dropped an excellent debut several years back now (2003, to be exact). Now, five years on, the duo is back with their follow-up, and it finds them changing their template ever-so-slightly, tweaking song structures while at the same time deconstructing their music a bit as well.

In other words, it's not quite as straightforward this time around, and in addition to veering completely from more pop-oriented playouts, they've twisted their vocals and instrumentation, utilizing filters more while placing a bit more emphasis on textures and overall variety of sounds. A listen of the first several songs on the release gives a pretty good overview of the changes, as "Seen The Sun Rise" gleams with beautiful washes of synths that plow together for dramatic emphasis as breathy vocals add a soft layer to it all. "Raised By Wolves" moves in a different direction, with an almost gleefully cheeseball R&B feel that opens things up a bit more.

There really isn't a song on the release where vocals come through straight, and as mentioned above they often get relegated to simply another melodic layer, with words turned into near-indecipherable phrases (as in the swirling "The Day The Champagne Got Into Our Heads"). With such a strong start to the release, it's a bit frustrating that the second portion largely falls into a more predictable batch of songs, but there are several standouts that shake off the cobwebs a bit.

The first of these is the excellent "Lunar Landing," which juxtaposes multiple layers of skittery beats and almost druggy chord changes into something quivering and tense, while the album closer of "Beyond The River" builds for nearly five minutes with some of the best hooks on the album and some great sing-along moments. With eleven songs running just over thirty-five minutes, the general feel of Juices! is brisk and playful, and while it may not stand up to their debut (or perhaps that's just nostalgia talking, as it has been almost five years), it should certainly appeal to fans of the group and most people looking for an electronic pop fix that takes the roundabout route.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2008-01-24 21:19:05