Lower Plenty - Sister Sister
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Lower Plenty's third album, Sister Sister, is another low-key, seemingly off-the-cuff pleasure that straddles the line between easygoing indie folk and experimental lo-fi pop. With Dick Diver's Al Montfort and Jensen Tjhung of Deaf Wish on vocals and guitar along with Sarah Heyward on vocals and percussion, the band has three distinctive songwriters and vocalists on hand, which makes for a diverse batch of songs within the lo-fi framework they've set up. Montfort tends to write calm, somewhat rambling songs that, when sung in his weird-guy-next-door vocals, have a nicely off-kilter feel to them. Tjhung's songs are a little more straightforward and dramatic, coming off like a bedroom version of the Bad Seeds at times. Heyward's are a bit more unpredictable: sometimes they are sparse and pretty ("So It Goes") in classic Flying Nun fashion; sometimes they are art-damaged and emotionally wracked ("Ravesh"). The songs all fit together well, complementing each other and adding up to something quite nice. The group plays them on strummed acoustic guitars, gently fuzzy electric guitars, artfully sawed violins, and muffled percussion with a light touch for the most part, unless the song calls for something more loose and free (like on "Ravesh," which has some unhinged sax soloing). The album isn't designed to dazzle or make a huge statement. Instead, it's music for moments of quiet reflection and muted introspection, delivered by a group of musicians who aren't trying too hard. In the age it was released, that's a pretty rare thing and well worth checking out, whether you are a fan of the bands involved or not.