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The Aluminum Group - Pedals
(Minty Fresh)

Stretching, reaching, pushing. Pushing, pulling. Expanding outward. Skating—coasting at times, but perpetually grinding on forward, focused on a destination. Round and round. Pedals in motion, the third album of lush, dreamlike modern pop music from The Aluminum Group finds the wheels of their girl’s bike furiously spinning toward something, something, something.

Okay, that’s all poetic and great. Now, back on planet earth, just what does this record sound like? It sounds like indie pop that goes somewhere. It sounds like a band breaking away from formulaic pop song construction while still instinctively keeping it in mind somehow. It sounds like a highly nuanced but unmistakeably engaging songs of disappointment and hope. It sounds like the sort of album that makes complete sense to feature production by Jim O’Rourke (Gastr Del Soul) and musical contributions by Sean O’Hagan (High Llamas), Doug McCombs (Tortoise), and Sally Timms (Mekons). It sounds like the sensation of landing on a huge, plush, soft bed after a harrowing, horrifying fall from an imposing height.

Indeed, it sounds like these two gay brothers from Chicago have been through the wringer. No rules are followed here, but undisciplined it is not. The music is deliberate, the emotions conjured brilliantly manipulative. Plaintive words jump out: "Have I jinxed myself out of your life for what has to be the umpteenth time," "You stir in your regret as he mixes you an absinthe and soda," "I want to know everything about your life, but I’m waiting for the paperback." Like, ouch. Frank and John Navin’s follow-up to 1998’s acclaimed Plano mixes upbeat—but still somehow restrained—pop thrills like "Impress Me" and "Two-Bit Faux Construction" with aching, aching, aching odes to hopelessness like "A Blur In Your Vision" and "Rrose Selavy’s Valise." If your heart is not in one piece upon entering, you may pedal with trepidation, but fear not—Pedals will catch your fall. And by all means, if you run into these guys, buy them a drink—sounds like they could use it. address: Minty Fresh

YEAH YEAH YEAH, 1999