Sidemen rarely make the transition to frontmen as gracefully or as confidently as Matt Kivel does on his solo debut Double Exposure. For several years now the Los Angeles musician has been paying his dues as a bass player in the Sleeping Bags, Gap Dream and Princeton (the indie-pop band, not the New Jersey college town), but on his own record, he jettisons the bass almost completely. In fact, these songs have been whittled to their barest elements: fingerpicked guitar, ambient synths and Kivel’s curious falsetto, all accentuated by occasional flourishes of drums and organ. These arrangements are so minimalist in nature that silence sounds like just another instrument in his musical arsenal. Despite its sharp acoustic strums, “Tetro” threatens to dissipate in the air between your speakers and your ears. “Rainbow Trout,” one of the catchier tunes, melts into the instrumental “Kes,” which loops and tweaks Kivel’s guitar into water droplets of sound. Even as the second half grows slightly denser and fuller — especially on “All Will Be Well,” which recalls the subdued hooks of the Clientele — the muted palette only enhances Kivel’s sharp lyrics, sneaky melodies, and nimble fretwork, forcing you to lean into the music to hear each hushed nuance.
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