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by Ryan Snyder

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EAR PWR — EAR PWR

When it rains it pours for Asheville electro-pop duo EAR PWR. After being widely rebuked for Super Animal Brothers III, their indulgent foray into contrived whimsy conceived while absorbing the Baltimore music scene, their eponymous follow-up has essentially been widely labeled a reactionary work meant to address the deluge of criticism of the first album. It’s not exactly for bad reason, either. The group explained their move back to Asheville in both interview and song, singing “We’re not like them, we can’t pretend/ They think we’re dumb, maybe we’re just happy” on the opener “Mountain.” On EAR PWR, to say they’ve matured from the Nick Jr. electro of Super Animal Brothers III would be like saying the same of a hyperactive five-year-old drugged with atomoxetine. The album is remarkably more subdued, but there’s also an unnatural airheadedness to it all at the same time. Simple mantras are blissfully repeated by vocalist Sarah Reynolds amidst fat synths lines and hard jungle beats like a candy-coated, antiseptic Kathy Brown. Reynolds isn’t exactly flabbergasting in her sole as the diva-in-residence of the duo. Her voice is modest and elfish, but sometimes a little too blasé to be taken seriously. She issues a gentle affirmation with the sincerity of a Stuart Smalley audiobook on “Your Life Is Important” and “National Parks” is simply her purring the song’s title over and over again. She hits upon golden melodies once or twice, most respectably on “Lake,” but the lyrics never ascend beyond marshmallow-y softness mixed way down. You want to like EAR PWR because it is genuine step forward and Devin Booze’s beats show a real knack for oddball melody, but its simply too tiresome to take seriously.

64/100

EAR PWR will perform on Saturday at Krankies Coffee with Miss Eaves, Gut Lightning, and Wizzerds of Rhyme.

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