Songwriting duo (and recent knotted spouses) Molly Shea and Jason Klauber — better known as Acrylics — have returned with their newest collaboration, DADA minor, just in time for a centennial observance of the Dada movement. The record also arrives on the decennial mark of Shea and Klauber’s first joined effort, Ghost Story, which they recorded in the summer of 2006, as founding members garage pop outfit Standing Nudes.
As easily as Acrylics trades lo-fi production and scruffy guitar solos for buffed AM radio revisionism, the pair also has a track record of being patient perfectionists. After issuing their debut EP, All of the Fire, in 2009 and enjoying the initial Brooklyn buzz that ensued, they worked with three different producers over two years to create their 2011 album Lives and Treasure. Similarly, DADA minor’s dozen tracks are the result of three years of writing and recording in apartments and studios, as co-producers and colleagues helped Shea and Klauber see them slowly realized.
DADA minor may not deliver a clear rejection of the music establishment, but it does take a collagist approach to its genre(s). Letting the band’s omnivorous side roam, the album finds connections between the golden ages of psychedelic experimentation, pop balladry, and college rock. There is a little less gloss on the tapes this time around, but their arrangements are more refined, valuing chord progressions between verses and choruses that take subtle risks for harmonic rewards.
Shea’s lyrics, in particular, have also taken a distinct surrealist turn, but Acrylics are too meticulous to just shake up a bag of word magnets and toss them at the fridge. The immersion in abstraction means that when they occasionally turn to direct, repeating codas—such as “I see something that wasn’t here before / Please tell me that it’s real” on “Into a Wall” and “How do I run from the devil inside me?” on “Battersea Blues”—it feels as if one has stumbled upon a key theme. If meaning ultimately remains elusive and secondary to feeling on DADA minor, that would only seem appropriate.