From Scritti Politti to Junior Boys, there’s a long tradition of bookish white guys attempting to reconcile their deep, genuine love of R&B with the vocal chops of software programmers. Michael Lovett, who used to play bass for Metronomy-related indie band Your Twenties, has both the fandom and the feyness, which explains why someone who talks so much about the transformative influence of Aaliyah ends up sounding like the Postal Service.
This is no bad thing when Lovett displays such a flair for after-hours analogue synth-pop. “Okinawa Channels” describes a salaryman’s melancholy drive home from work, nagged by a sound which could be “the coins in my pocket…or the rain on the bonnet,” while “Compass Points” turns the name of the storied Bahamas recording studio into a metaphor for love at a distance. And if the poignant instrumental “New Magnetic North” would merit a place on the Drive soundtrack, then “Moonlit Car Chase” makes explicit the impression of lonely men on dark highways. But Lovett sticks to the same few routes, and his milquetoast falsetto begins to grate, while “Base64″ pushes the geek love too far: “If you’re around tonight I’m formatting my hard drive” is a joke that might have been dropped from the first Hot Chip album. In “AM Travel Interlude”‘s gorgeous and unexpected homage to the Beach Boys’ “Our Prayer” you get a glimpse of more diverse journeys to come.