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Mahogany - Connectivity!

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Artist: Mahogany

Album: Connectivity!

Label: Darla

Review date: Nov. 2, 2006

"Connectivity" according to Detroit-via-Brooklyn tweegazers Mahogany is the marriage, or at least the idea of one, of bubblegum pop and blustery atmosphere. Those two vaguely contradictory songwriting models have been propitious bedfellows before (as the Cocteau Twins proved decades ago), but here they harmonize awkwardly and unevenly, making for an album that boasts a dazzling sonic palette and a few pretty melodies, but fails to achieve a truly compelling or memorable coalescence.

The genius on Connectivity!, as it was on Mahogany's well-liked earlier efforts, is technical: guitarist Andrew Prinz and a phalanx of delay-pedal warriors conjure up wonderfully bleary backdrops on nearly every song, from the slow Eno painting of "Renovo" to the downtuned English bleariness of "Domino Ladder Beta." These overcast textures are worth reveling in by their own rights; the frustration is that one is hard pressed to, for all the aimless color strewn on top of them. By and large it's the unsmeared parts of the songs — the battering rhythm section, the fleecy bells and whistles, and above all the cooing vocals — that grate against the aural space and crowd out the less defined but more interesting sounds. "Springtime, Save Our Country" turns lumbering post-industrial suspense into a slight Camera Obscura-ish ditty; the fat Factory Records decadence of the bassline in "The View From The People Wall" is usurped, over and over, by a call-and-response between chirping falsetto and a delirious piccolo.

A few songs get by on conviction: the vocals and lyrics of "My Bed Is My Castle" (which comes in two more or less identical incarnations here) are just queasy and sour enough to complement the stately, shimmering dirge underneath them; "Neo-Plastic Boogie-Woogie," which is Belle & Sebastian's Tigermilk behind a wall of Spectorian reverb, succeeds in a vein basically unrelated to the rest of the album. But the majority of Connectivity! is merely a moody, unenduring buzz, too focused on connecting its interesting but irreconcilable idioms to do justice to either.

By Daniel Levin Becker

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