At its peak, the overachieving, eponymous debut of These Modern Socks endearingly balances heart and healthy experimentation, a la the Flaming Lips. This bundle of squelchy, fuzz-dipped pop boasts winsome appeal in spades, mainly through leadman Corey Palmer’s coy vocals. Like James Mercer with a twist of Beck, his melodies are crisp, buoyant, and playful. Album standouts “Monitor Progress” and “Parade Around” both delight with their pitch-perfect choruses (the former, mindful and caring; the latter, sweetly tuneful). But Palmer is not merely a mouth-piece. His industrious work on the sonics—the free-form progression and the strange, though pop-savvy, textures—supply the cerebral attraction. “That Will Never Change” is the most bewitching, especially with its mid-song inclusion of computerized, near Gregorian chanting effects. Misfires, like the cautious “Buster” and a straight cover of “Head Over Heels”, are present, but Socks’ winningly intimate and adventurous spirit remains magnetic.
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// Notes from the Road
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