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CD Review: The Postmarks

Memoirs at the End of the World (Unfiltered)

In the 1990s, bands like Portishead and Combustible Edison drew inspiration from exotic '60s film scores. Despite being a diversely rich and rarely mined stylistic niche, that '90s scene was merely a cool fad that faded before it exhausted its potential. The latest album by the Postmarks successfully pays particular homage to John Barry's thriller/James Bond scores, incorporating deep, epic orchestration on most tracks. Other songs evoke a dreamy Blue Velvet/Twin Peaks vibe. But the Postmarks succeed in generating their own identity to avoid deteriorating into a sort of mimic-gimmick retro tribute act. Soft, unassuming female pop voices diverge from the typical Tom Jones or Shirley Bassey powerhouse-vocal conventions of the James Bond themes. And like 1960s-inspired mod new wave of the '80s, these songs contain a sense of artistic hindsight that prevents them from being an authentic product of an earlier era. Despite titles like "Go Jetsetter," goofy kitsch components are actually quite minimal, and the lyrics and music convey a classy, confident reverence that still preserves a healthy sense of fun. Memoirs also profits from the varied pacing of its catchy tunes, alternating between hefty, imposing John Barry-esque tracks and light, bubbly girl-group pop like "My Lucky Charm." Especially memorable is the cinematically massive "Thorn in Your Side" in separate vocal and instrumental versions — another hip nod to classic soundtracks. — Michael David Toth

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