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The Radar Brothers

And the Surrounding Mountains (Merge)

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Unlike other drugs, which pique or blur the mind and senses, heroin just anesthetizes you. The euphoria passes, time slows down, the world remains present, but none of it matters. As such, heroin is the perfect analogy for the Radar Brothers' new release.

Clearly, much loving attention has been lavished on the album, and you get the sense that the erstwhile Brothers left the studio amply satisfied with Mountains' aura of gauzy melancholy, its well-nigh-haunting melodies, its loosely defined concept having something -- not sure what, really -- to do with family. (Tracks include "You and the Father," "Sisters," "Uncles," and "Mothers.")

But Mountains' somnolent pacing (granted, up a tick from earlier efforts) and producer Jim Putnam's full-on shambolic assault of synth and reverb renders it nearly formless. And the exceptions make you wish someone like Jim O'Rourke or Dave Fridmann would throw Putnam off the boards, rein in the band's Pink Floydian aspirations, and let its basically taut songwriting breathe. Comfortably numb, indeed.

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