Rehearsing their choir

By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  December 31, 2008

The music on Samples for Handsome Animals exhibits the same care and attention to detail as their well-rounded promotional campaign. Metcalfe's fierce garage-rock riffs on "Walrus" dovetail into carnivalesque kazoo and keyboard notes (both members often play more than one instrument in each song) as Spaltro bellows in staticky mood swings. You're tempted to call "Until I Am Bones" a showcase for Spaltro's specific, visual songwriting ("I love you/Until I am bones), until it breaks into an ebullient, ramshackle jam of bells and electric and acoustic guitars. Handsome Animals plays like a B-sides collection in the best way possible: it's the sound of an ambitious new band exploring their potential, and running across gems of ideas at nearly every turn. Be sure to check them out before they get too slick. And too popular.

Christopher Gray can be reached atcgray@phx.com.

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