Those who avoided Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink's solo albums this year due to a lack of interest in their recent work as Azure Ray are missing out on some fine slices of moody, engaging pop. It's unclear what that says about the women's collaborative abilities these days (their recorded history together dates back to the '90s with power-pop outfit Little Red Rocket), but one thing's for sure: Taylor and Fink sound inspired and energized, and they're clearly enjoying the freedom to move in whatever direction they please. Though Fink's Invisible Ones is bolder and more experimental, Taylor's 11:11 is the prettier of the twoand aching beauty is what they've always done best.
The album opens with the exquisite strings-and-blips-filled "Leap Year" (with Taylor whispering such longing words as "I will wait for you / but please come soon"), then moves into more standard indie-rock fare with "Song Beneath The Song," featuring Conor Oberst's seal of approval via backing vocals. Throughout the album, Taylor commits herself to all things dreamy while playing hopscotch with numerous styles, dabbling in Azure Ray-like melancholy, danceable electronics, and shoegazing goodness that recalls Slowdive during its heyday. If Taylor keeps this up, she could become indie rock's answer to Robert Palmer.