High Places

    (grate 3.5/4}

    High Places set off on the trail that Panda Bear blazed last year with the sample-heavy psychedelic pop of Person Pitch, but repackaged in the co-ed framework so successful for dynamic duos like the White Stripes and Mates of State. In this particular relationship, Mary Pearson handles the coy vocal anthems and Rob Barber works the boards to create surreal pop morsels from a pastiche of honed noise. Their self-titled debut expands on the 3/07-9/07 collection’s electro-twee, built from found sounds and doubling as an interpretive-dance soundtrack for a kindergarten jamboree.

    Here’s the hitch: Pearson crafts every melody as if it were a rejected nursery rhyme, rarely measuring up to Barber’s remarkably consistent and fully realized ambience.

    Pearson’s modest pop ambition ultimately reins in the jungle celebration of “The Tree with the Lights in It” and detracts from crackle-and-bass number “A Field Guide,” making herself out to be a high-school girl singing made-up lyrics over all her favorite records. It’s cute, harmless, sometimes annoying and yes, you can be sure the band will be name-dropped in stitch circles across the country, because the combo of innocuous vox and kitchen-sink electronics sometimes falls into place. Witness the ecstatic and bumbling “From Stardust to Sentience,” a track founded on the most infectious beat of 2008, chattering so cleverly with timbre and tune you can play it on a desk with only your hands. “Golden” layers Pearson’s mantras over triggered third-world bustle.

    High Places establishes the Brooklynites’ handmade and gentle qualities, endearing and irritating all at once, though potentially transcendent. Their inspiring debut is day-care music you can play before the kids take their afternoon nap; inevitably, it’s also the favorite of that whiny kid in your section that you absolutely can’t stand.

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