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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: Zammuto by Zammuto (out now on Temporary Residence Ltd.)
Press play if you like: The Books; The Avalanches; pop songs that delight through confusion and contortion
Some background: Nick Zammuto was the sweet-voiced half of multimedia art-pop collagists The Books, at least until that duo woefully called it quits after four progressively refined albums of WTF samples, soft singing, and pleasurable tangents. Going solo from his home in Vermont, with the help of drummer Sean Dixon and string arranger Gene Back, Zammuto again splices the strangest snippets of sound into the strongest sort of earworms. He somehow makes the number with the name “F U C-3PO” feel like the catchiest thing Pinback never conceived. Zammuto does that in part because he comes out of his singing shell here, belting out abstractions before damaging the lines with myriad effects—glitchy refraction, gauzy Auto-Tune, glorious multiplication. That move casts the cloistered effect of The Books aside, affording Zammuto the kind of confidence and energy that his old band sometimes sidestepped. This is an expansive debut, leapfrogging between the electro-funk noise of “Zebra Butt” to the slow-burn sadness of “Full Fading,” which rearranges the rays of Sun Kil Moon for a seraphim choir. Unattached from the stylistic spine of The Books, Nick Zammuto’s apparently gone a little crazy. It works.
Try this: Remember that chiseled bass tone of later albums by The Books? Zammuto supplies it again on “Idiom Wind” and speaks up when he sings, playing on Dylan and picking on a friend over woozy keys, whining strings and wild drums. (Stream the album in its entirety below.)