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Social Studies
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  • Body Language may be the kind of name that provides the band with an instant uphill battle to wage, but the opening notes of their debut album, Social Studies, are enough to win over anyone who likes their electro pop as warm as a bubble bath. The richly bubbling synths, the intertwined vocals of Angelica Bess, Grant Wheeler, and Matthew Young, and the laid-back, chunky beats on "You Can" are like soothing sonic honey, and his sticky sweetness carries through the whole album, as even the more upbeat tracks make you feel gently caressed by sound. The layered synths and hazy atmospheres fit in snugly with chillwavers like Neon Indian, the tricky vocal harmonies and melodies aren't miles away from the buttoned-down, weird pop of Vampire Weekend or Dirty Projectors, and the underlying sense of adventurism places them nearby Panda Bear or Passion Pit. The majority of the album lives in this sweet spot of sparkling oddball pop, with Bess' vocals and the strength of the hooks (especially on the lovely "Holiday" and the title track) giving the group a leg up on the competition. Where they really come into their own is on the tracks that boost the tempo and add a little bite to the sound. The stomping, almost snarling "We Got Enough" and the slinky, disco pop groover "Falling Out" sound less like the sum of their influences and more like a band letting loose and finding an identity, and these songs will have you heading for the nearest dancefloor. Social Studies is an impressive debut, and if at times it sounds a little derivative, it is never less than enjoyable. Sometimes, like on "You Can" or "Falling Out," it even gets a little wonderful. ~ Tim Sendra
Professional Reviews
Spin (p.69) - "[T]his multiracial quartet cuts down on the art rock, gets busier with the R&B, and floats twinkling glockenspiel and twee boy/girl harmonies over bin-rattling booty bottom."
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