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A Charalambides album is always an event in our book, and this new one on Kranky is superb stuff, arguably taking their fizzy, fuzzy psychedelic pop and drone-folk sound to a whole new level. It's mad to think that Tom and Christina Carter have been making music together for 20 years now, but it shows in the coherence of Exile, their first LP since 2007's Likeness. It begins cautiously, with the uber-minimal twanger 'Autumn Leaves', like Richard Chartier scoring a spaghetti western, but things open up on 'Desecrated', Christina's vocals taking charge as Tom fires molten guitar licks across her bows. Some of the most immediate and accessible fare in the Charalambides catalogue can be found on this record: the desert-dried 'Words Inside' is a highlight, reminding us a little of that ace Weyes Blood LP on Not Not Fun from earlier this year, as is the strung-out country-soul of 'Immovable', while 'Before You Go' builds those guitar drones to a truly symphonic climax. Following the epic drift-psych work-out of 'Into The Earth', the album ends how it began, with two lengthy, unbelievably sparse pieces, though this time lifted by the introduction of Christina's cautioning, eldritch lyrics and piano taking a dominant role over guitar.

A strong showing from one of the most reliably beguiling outfits in the US underground; if you're a fan of their work then you'll have already clicked Buy, if you're new to 'em then this is a terrific place to start.

Cat. number: krank158
Year: 2011