Keepaway, Black Flute

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 01.10.12 in Reviews

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.

Style-conscious Brooklyn psych-pop trio makes good on its early promise

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.