This is where Keepaway prove they’re not playing. Over the course of a couple EPs and a Das Racist collaboration or two, the Brooklyn trio established themselves as one of the more endearing of the many psych-tinged electronic-pop bands floating somewhere between Animal Collective’s tropical squawks and MGMT’s aggressive fluorescence. This 10-song, 37-minute debut doesn’t quite have the sharply-honed songwriting to improve on those influences, but it does make good on the promise of 2010 standout “Yellow Wings,” adding a few new textures as it sets up Keepaway as worthy of sharing a bill with Passion Pit, Yeasayer or Hooray for Earth. Or, to an extent, even L.A. beatmakers like Flying Lotus and Matthewdavid.
The official video for first track “Cake” shows Keepaway in three-part split-screen, goofing around in front of a tree. Sounds about right. Avoiding a single focal point, Mike Burakoff (samplers), Frank Lyon (drums) and Nick Nauman (guitar) all share vocal duties, and while there’s definitely a sylvan quality to Black Flutes‘ hollow beats and campfire harmonies, these are no stone-faced shamans. “Hologram” ventures into grinding-ready dubstep bass wobble; synthy, Afropop-nodding reverie “Bomb Track” ends with what appears to be assurance that women can’t measure men’s size as well as they think; and the chorus that’s most like one from Passion Pit’s Manners, on the otherwise FlyLo-warped “Vital,” includes the wildly apropos line, “I forget my manners.”
Released on Das Racist wise guy Himanshu Suri’s own Greedhead label, Black Flute is serious fun, and a big step up from a band clearly immersed in recent underground sounds — which, let’s face it, aren’t so far off anymore from going flat-out pop. Artsy collegiate slackers need their party music, too.