Au Revoir Simone | Still Night, Still Light

Our Secret Record Co. (2009)
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  May 18, 2009
3.5 3.5 Stars

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On the surface, Brooklyn trio Au Revoir Simone are a publicist's dream: three lovely ladies with a penchant for lawn-soft dreampop and an arsenal of electronic gear so unassuming, they might have formed in an aisle at Service Merchandise. Of course, a band so compatible with synopsis could also be a music snob's worst nightmare. Thank goodness, the music of Au Revoir Simone is far more compelling than the shorthand, and the songs hardly give doubt a fighting chance.

Some bands make a third album; others make something more like a third refinement of "the album." This feels like the (charmed) latter. Chattering Casio beats and a fake oboe open "Trace a Line," a maudlin, hair-twirling beauty of a pop song — par for Simone's familiar course, with its effortlessly perfect tempering of chilly synthetics with fuzzy humanity.

The scruffy arpeggiation, SK-1 organs, skittering antique drum machine, and milky harmonies of "Knight of Wands" might be just what you expect from the girls by now, but expectations are fine when they're rewarded with such clear across-the-board improvement. "Shadows" is a remix phenomenon waiting to happen — see last year's Aeroplane mix of Simone's collaboration with the Friendly Fires, "Paris," to get a sense of the potential radness. This might be the album's best track. But it's not easy to pick one until you drop the critical trip and take Still Night for the well-tended plot of pop daises it is.

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