MASTERS OF THE HEMISPHERE
PROTEST A DARK ANNIVERSARY
Kindercore darlings the Masters of the Hemisphere—look out, He-Man, at least when you're above the equator!—are back after two silent years with their third full-length flash of twee-pop perfection (yes, even living up to their much-loved concept album I Am Not a Freemdoom). Which is great. But even better, the Masters of the Hemisphere have successfully avoided the nauseating cutesiness of their brothers and sisters on the label (Dressy Bessy, anyone?), using crafty musicianship and considerable talent to push past pop mainstays like the Beatles, Kinks and Beach Boys and pluck influences from, say, sweet 1950s ballads or gloomy '80s electronica like Joy Division and New Order. "Anything, Anything" kicks off the album with an instantly addictive collage of power pop and vocal harmonies, and the Masters just pick up speed from there (swoon to the love-y "200 Heads," which explains that "some things never go away"). Anniversary's weakest moment comes on "Take Time," a blaring pop song that turns sour with the ear-crunching St. Elmo's Fire-esque sax solo tacked on at the end—cue painful flashbacks of fluorescent shoes, layered socks and horrendous hair! Luckily, the Masters pop right back up with "In the Morning," their best song to date: a delicious blend of surprisingly mature guitar playing and amazing percussion that demonstrates their real potential to reach beyond standard four-chord pop songs. (Lara Rossmann)
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