Tiny Victories’ debut Haunts is a self-assured electropop primer. Over 11 songs, the Brooklyn duo merges purring motorik beats with percolating keyboards, M83-esque synth meteor showers, jubilant indie-electrorock and throwbacks to early-’80s new wave. Greg Walters gives emotion to this digitalism via moody vocals; he’s almost an exact hybrid of Interpol gloom merchant Paul Banks and Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring. His singing is perfect for Haunts‘ dark subject matter. The album largely focuses on what happens when life tilts toward tragedy and despair. “Systems,” which recalls Tubeway Army, attempts to find order within chaos, to middling success: “Everyone wants a piece of you, but you’ve got nothing left to give.” Walters sound even more heartbroken on “Drinking With Your Ghost,” admitting he engages in the title’s act nightly before pleading, “Tell your ghost to leave me alone.” But thanks to the arrangements, which emphasize rhythm and hooks, Haunts almost feels upbeat; on “Scott & Zelda,” the song’s uncertain chorus (“I don’t know myself anymore”) is surrounded by tropical rhythms and blocky arcade-game keyboards. Even when it’s in the depths of melancholy, Haunts finds glimmers of happiness.
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