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We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.
Album: Both Lights by AU (out now on Hometapes)
Press play if you like: Homemade, hyperactive chamber pop; megaphonic marching music; dashes of Beirut-style folk
Some background: Multi-instrumentalist Luke Wyland founded AU in 2005 before wrapping up at the Massachusetts College Of Art and relocating to Portland, Oregon, a bastion for the kind of orchestrally influenced art-pop he’d begun creating. Working with a rotating cast of players (drummer Dana Valatka is now the only other official member), he produced 2007’s Au and 2009’s Verbs, albums that seemed to be missing links between classical experimentalists like Terry Riley and Philip Glass and modern crossover weirdoes like Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear. Also deeply embedded in the project’s DNA are strains of bluegrass, spiritual music, and, increasingly, dance. The latter is evident on Both Lights standout “OJ,” while “Why I Must” sounds like piano-based chase music scored by Lightning Bolt, and “Solid Gold” displays more than a passing understanding of the complexities of African highlife. AU’s latest is supposedly a breakup record, but it sounds triumphant, a heady but enjoyable whirl of ferocious playing amidst delicate beauty.
Try this: Single “Get Alive,” which opens with burping brass and a flurry of banjo, and soon becomes a stomping, swirling thing set to a booming bass drum. Wyland's voice glides through the glorious noise, urging instruments and listeners alike to come to life, dance, swoon, and soar.