Wordless Wonder (Three Dimensional)
Minneapolis’ Real Numbers declares its twee intentions from the first moments of “Frank Infatuation,” the leadoff track on Wordless Wonder. Brisk, strummy guitar chords make a bed for a bouncy, melodic bass before drums rush in along with a rudimentary but game-as-hell lead guitar line. Singer Eli Hansen enters with a shy, stepwise melody, projecting from the back of his mouth in a way that’s probably muffled and hard to understand even without the echo. Hansen employs the same imploring, hopeful voice throughout Wordless Wonder, and drops the twee AF title “Happy Sadness.” It all could be a bit pat, and the voice could get kind of old, but the band is tight and energetic enough to get over, especially on songs like the Pogues-y “Just So Far Away” and the lead single “New Boy.” At its best, Wordless Wonder feels like standing on a platform watching trains rush by, or jumping around with your hands tucked inside your sweater sleeves. Maybe it’s this gray winter day, but I like it a lot.
Tuck in Yer Tie-Dye! (BUFU)
The singer for Brooklyn’s Flower Girl is self-consciously amateurish, similar to Real Numbers’ Hansen—but rather than hopeful and imploring, Nick “Nacho” Morris is a little more arch and mocking, a difference you might expect between bands from Minneapolis and Brooklyn. Still, the twangy indie jangle of the title track gets us off to a good start, and the manic “HI5s” adds a swirling Orange Juice quality. Flower Girl has chops, but they’re often wasted on crap hipster themes like apartment mice and “the old liquor store.” Some of the faux-country stuff up the middle is the weakest patch—“Dorothy Said” pokes along before “2 Late 2 Be a Cowboy” ceases momentum altogether—they choke off the energy of TIYTD!, and the album doesn’t right itself until the exuberant “Business Plant.” “Tucked Out” is another dumb winner, a mostly instrumental groove featuring melodica, shaker and a guitarist messing with the volume knob—then a hip nursery-rhyme vocal lasts 15 seconds before an abrupt, annoyingly raucous ending. Overall, Tuck In Your Tie-Dye! is nifty, until it isn’t.
Requiem (Sub Pop)
On the leadoff track “Union of Sun and Moon,” faintly twittering bird sounds introduce a solitary, echoing voice chanting a benediction. Drums crack through and lead to a groove fueled by wooden flutes (yes, multiple flutes) supported by layers of shakers and other percussion, acoustic guitars and meaty bass. There are a couple of spoken-word verses, a brief, searing psych guitar solo and a return to the flute groove. The joyous “I Sing in Silence” follows, with guitars that sound Malian and flutes that sound Indian. Buoyant voices shamelessly intone bromides like “I am your sister you are my brother we have each other.”
Goat is from Sweden’s deep north; its members wear masks and by now you probably know whether you want to try hanging with them. Requiem is the band’s fourth album of shamanistic adventures on the lighter side, distillations of churning acid rock and various global styles. It would sound experimental if it weren’t so focused, and though it builds up more steam at some times than at others, it’s endlessly heady.