On System Preferences, Earlimart continues to do what they’ve done over the course of their career, which is to keep one ear towards the rustic and rural and the other on the digital and decadent. Like their spiritual kinfolk and tourmates in Grandaddy, Earlimart’s songs are winsome, folky, and acoustic, with an added pathos that comes from their integration of technology. On “Shame” and “Lovely Mary Ann,” Espinoza writes serpentine melodies reminiscent of Elliott Smith while inexpensive synthesizers and computers fill out the margins, and it hits upon the same uniquely modern flavor of bittersweet: Hearing System Preferences is like stumbling across an outdated Mac in a pawn shop, an artifact simultaneously beaming with the past’s promises of a bold future while acknowledging the consumptive power of progress.
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