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Point Juncture, WA

Handsome Orders

(Mt. Fuji; US: 17 May 2011; UK: import)

Point Juncture, WA has followed its excellent and lush 2009 album, Heart to Elk, with a more concentrated and energetic set of songs on Handsome Orders. The impressive layering hasn’t disappeared here, but it is toned down and the immediate hook drives most of these songs. The band works best when mixing oddly coupled layers together. Even on the most straightforward pop songs, like “When You Wake Up It’s Today”, the bright hush of acoustic guitar and vocals is undone by the mournful trumpet in the background. “Boston Gold” pits grinding guitars against gauzy vocals and brushed drums to beautiful squalling effect. Album standouts “Chronological Order” and “Violin Case” peel their layers down to the basics—smudged piano chords, propulsive drums, jangling guitars—and while the parts seem basic, they come together with a surprising, and striking, heft. Other moments on the record, like “Economics of Basketball” and “Snakey Hands”, may be a bit too stripped-down and mid-tempo, and sound meager next to the more intricate pop songs around them. Still, Handsome Orders reveals the stunning melodies under all the inventive layers the group has offered in the past, and Point Juncture, WA remains one of the greatest under-appreciated Northwest bands. However, it’s still at its best when piling the moods on even the catchiest of songs.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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Heart to Elk is vibrant and intricate pop played with a haunting, strained quiet that can only come from a great band playing with confidence.
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