[3 October 2010]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Can a band sound both ragged and shimmering at the same time? You’d think not, but if you hear Titles’ new record, Dirt Bell, you’ll at least consider the question again. The New Haven quartet, fronted by singer-songwriter Brad Amorosino, craft a moody, shuffling kind of pop that is hard to pin down. It’s hazy the way a lot of young bands are these days, but Dirt Bell is a little livelier, a little less cold and knowing than many of their gauzy ilk. “Pillowcase” shows off their infectious melodies and their Wilsonian knack for vocal harmonies, and standout “When You Were Young” starts as a sullen ballad, but grows into a heavily orchestrated pop gem. Keys and guitars combine and melt over these tracks, but Amorosino cuts through the murk with an assured, honeyed voice. Though the album settles into a soft, slow valley in the middle, the band rarely loses sight of pacing and subtle energy. Titles kick up just the right amount of dust on Dirt Bell, just enough so we have to squint, but not so much we can make out all that shines behind those dust clouds.