Foxhole

Foxhole

Artist: The Proper Ornaments

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Format: CD
Label: SLUMBERLAND RECORDS
Rel. Date: 01/20/2017
UPC: 749846022424

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Looked at cynically, the Proper Ornaments is a great name for a band infatuated with their record collections--a group that decorates their spare little songs with only the most finely curated influences, like so many baubles on a tree. The Beatles' ''White Album'' here, Pink Floyd's ''Meddle'' there. The Beta Band here, Yo La Tengo there. The Velvet Underground everywhere. But there's no reason to be cynical about this London quartet. The Proper Ornaments are based primarily around the songwriting partnership of James Hoare (of Ultimate Painting and Veronica Falls) and Max Oscarnold. Unlike some of their 60s-loving, vinyl-obsessed peers (Crystal Stilts, say, or looking back a little farther, Brian Jonestown Massacre), it's possible to separate your appreciation of the Ornaments nifty influences from your appreciation of their songs. The pair craft beguilingly simple, guitar-driven psych-pop stitched together by gorgeous, laidback harmonies. Compared to their excellent 2014 album, ''Wooden Head,'' ''Foxhole'' turns down the six-string jangle and turns up the sad-sack vibes for a more intimate, lovelorn affair. This is a Sunday morning, lay-in-bed-til-2 p.m. album-- a big warm blanket of analog guitar and woolly harmony. True, this kind of thing has been done many times before. But what's remarkable about ''Foxhole'' is just how effortlessly the Proper Ornaments pull it off.... Tunes built on layers of acoustic guitar, piano, and soft percussion unwind lazily, never drawing too much attention to themselves (see, in particular, ''I Know You Know,'' a dead ringer for a B-side from the Jesus and Mary Chain's ''Stoned & Dethroned'' sessions). No one plays very hard, yet the melodies stick. As with ''Wooden Head,'' the Ornaments power lies in their restraint. --Pitchfork, 1/18/17 7.4