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War Tapes
The Continental Divide
Sarathon Records
www.wartapesband.com


War Tapes are a fine sample of a burgeoning group of artists whose trance-like spirals and synth textured psychedelics harbor a chill-out vibe that garners riffs garbed in shoegazy esthetics. The band's latest record The Continental Divide has common denominators relatable to a sect of modern artists who have been lumped in the newly dubbed chillwave for its likeness to '80s new wave complexions and its throng of fluidly sonic raptures. War Tapes are more than new wave revivalists, their music pervades a contemporary glint reflective of The Airborne Toxic Event and an oasis-like plumage that shares links to Klaxons and Amazing Baby. Their music ejects dreamy rays that expand and retract in a harmonious choir of glittering crystals and melodic swells that make their songs picturesque and aurally pleasing.

The dreamy sonic effects and billowing flourishes in tracks like "The Night Unfolds" and "Dreaming Of You" are fringed in crackling slashes, and the pockets of crescendos that litter "She Lied" are nicely stoked by Neil Popkin's vocals. The echoey resonance of Popkin and Matt Bennett's guitar effects in the channels of "Start Again" are buckled in gentle, wavy motions, and the lustrous shimmers of his guitar strings in "All The World's A Stage" produce slippery glides and massive entanglements that beef up the synth-embossed craters. The dance-pop grooves of "Mind Is Ugly" are pillared in columns of guitar distortions, and hydroplaned synths that morph into dales of rocky tremors along "For Eternity" before closing with the soft flusters of the piano-driven ballad "Fast Lane." Popkin's vocal arches are lush, merging with the glistening guitar effects that sink into the staunch rhythmic beats of bassist Becca Popkin and drummer William Mohler, making for a harmonious union.

War Tapes' album suffers from the pitfall that many synth-inspired artists fall into, which is repeating their sound track after track. Their music starts out dabbling in experimental rock, but by the middle of the record the songs begin sounding the same and [become] hard to differentiate from one another. The entangling effects and seraphim-wrapped layers are the result of heavy duty production work which gives the band's tracks volume but not necessarily substance. The album is aurally pleasing but lacks the individuality that the songs could have.

-Susan Frances

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