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Album Leaf
In A Safe Place
(Sub Pop)

Jimmy LaValle has, in a few short years, fashioned a place for himself atop the American drone mountain. His shimerring, elegiac songs combine just enough of a pop ethos to make them accessible to a larger audience. And on In a Safe Place, LaValle brings the concentric orbits of pop and drone a little closer, making his record, as he puts it, "sound like carpet feels."

Recorded in Iceland with help from Sigur Ros, Mum, and Black Heart Procession's Pall Jenkins, In a Safe Place is the Album Leaf's best release to date, and reaches farther than previous efforts with the inclusion of vocals. While LaValle certainly incorporates some of that trademark atmospheric sound Sigur Ros is known for (especially on the brilliant "Twenty Two Fourteen"), there is still something uniquely American about In a Safe Place, even something uniquely So Cal, like he brought a little piece of sun-bleached relaxation to the dramatic Icelandic scene.

Let's face it, the big change on this record is the vocals. With songs like "On Your Way," indie pop songs must be getting nervous because the Album Leaf is making them look bad -- while still containing all the elements that the Album Leaf have always used, it condenses and compresses them into a brilliant pop song, better than most bands who spend an entire album focusing on making a great pop song.

"Over the Pond" is another song with vocals, though this time the eerie crooning of Sigur Ros' Jon Thor Birgisson, giving it this other worldy collaborative feel. The heart of the song is clearly a LaValle creation, with the ebullient undercurrents of a contrained Sigur Ros about to burst. The tension is amazing and makes for an incredible song. "Eastern Glow" is another great pop song with more brooding vocals that give the competition something to ponder while next in the studio.

In a Safe Place is more than just another great Album Leaf record, it is something special, with the delicate beauty of glass flowers. Pick it up, though carefully, and hear for yourself.



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Saturday, July 26, 2014 All Contents Copyright © 2014 Stinkweeds Music