In contrast to the minimal, Detroit-bred dance music of his earlier work, Matthew Dear, now a resident of New York City, has been slowing it down lately. Not in terms of his artistic output or creative ambition – 2010′s terrific Black City revealed Dear’s yen to front a band, and on tour he did just that, ditching the wheels of steel for a mic and convincing Rat Pack mien. Here, Dear slows the tempos even more, stewing sloe-gin beats in hazy melodies until it’s like dubby techno taffy. (You’ll have to provide the Lucky Strikes, Old Fashioneds, and wee morning hours for the perfect listening ambiance.)
That’s not to say there’s less happening here – on Headcage‘s standout track, “In the Middle (I Met You There),” a duet with the Drums frontman Jonny Pierce, vocals tarry in an intoxicating synth rub, and a full-fledged, if eclectic, pop song emerges. And as on his last few releases, Dear’s voice is front and center; and though he goes from a deep-chocolate baritone to an impressive falsetto (“Street Song”), he’s never at a loss for words.