I apologize for the hiatus. The holiday, long-distance travel, and non-OS work tended to get in the way. But what better way to come back than to a new Memory Tapes album? I’ve enjoyed frontman Dayve Hawk’s work since 2007, when I featured his disco-friendly Hail Social project. He remains a highly infectious and varied songwriter with Memory Tapes, where he has produced his best and most expansive works to date. Last year’s Player Piano is highly recommended, in particular. Electronic pop with rock and funk influences indicate Memory Tapes’ primary sound, with Hawk’s disco references being less prevalent but occasionally relevant rhythmically. Memory Tapes’ upcoming album, Grace/Confusion, is available above to stream in its entirety. Hawk’s most ambitious release to date, the album is 40 minutes long and – surprisingly for Memory Tapes – only features six tracks. Hawk is best known for concise pop efforts, but as the tracks on Grace/Confusion shows him stretching out his legs, it’s a welcome transition.
Several album efforts are available on Soundcloud as single streams, as well. “Thru The Field” reminds of Yellow Magic Orchestra’s wistful and highly influential synth-pop. This is particularly notable in the track’s main sequence, which loops in a similarly bouncy fashion to YMO tracks like “Rydeen”. After this blast of nostalgia, the song’s second half presents a crisper and more emotive vein of dance-pop that shifts listeners ahead several decades to today’s synthesized interpretations. Polished guitar licks and pulsating percussion supplement the transition, before settling into a hazily atmospheric crawl with swelling synth pads and muted drums. “Neighborhood Watch” is a more psychedelic effort, with reverb coating Hawk’s voice over twangy and languid guitars during the verses. The chorus – where Hawk sings “I’ll watch you sleep” in a hypnotic fashion – is beautifully constructed with gentle string swipes and trickling keys, making that line less creepy than it sounds. These are all great tracks, and it’s commendable Hawk has made the entirety of Grace/Confusion available for streaming before its December 4th release date on Carpark Records. It’s a late entry on next week’s Top 50 Albums of 2012, for sure.