Correatown -- Pleiades
Angela Correa is a woman of changes. Her self-titled debut—recorded live almost five years ago—featured a ten-track collection of striped-bare country ballads, just a girl, a guitar and a lot of minor chords. Fast forward to 2011 and Correatown’s third album, Pleiades, wastes no time wrapped listeners in waves of electric blips and synth hums and vocal countermelodies. It's a far stretch from the slo-folk murder ballads of yore, but Correa's latest venture into the wide world of raised production values is thankfully more like a fresh breeze through an open window than a wall of smog (through an open window in the Valley).
In many ways, Correatown picks up where the ethereal, plaintive Spark. Burn. Fade left off. Haunting female backup vocals and countermelodies still characterize a wide swath of her sound. Correa's voice is apparently designed for this kind of ambiguous, serious calm, that low, almost-murmur that people use when they're trying to tell you something important that they're not sure they want to say. (This is especially evident in earlier tracks like the slow burn "Everything, All At Once" or the vaguely ominous "Isomer" that preceeds it). When Correa asks "If I was lost and never found, what would you do?" your first response is to call the fire department, cuz she sure seems to mean it.
Luckily, the same holds true when the album ventures into some straight-up rock-out electric powerpop territory. Correa never sounds quite as comfortable on upbeat tech-heavy thunderbirds like "Turn On, Turn Up" or "Play" but boy, she sure does sound like she's having fun. The group as a whole makes excellent work of the "tide comes in, slow build, wave crashes, tide goes out" movement (or, as I like to call it, the Florence Effect). If the percussion was just a little more pervasive, it could serve to drive the crashes all the more and push it into workout music territory.
The first lyrics of the album are "we were younger, we were brighter, we were soft and unwise" and Correatown seems to hold that thoughtful appreciation for the past with optimism for the future throughout Pleiades. The layers of electrical blips and hums and undercurrents and overtones that have been carefully laid across every track edge to the point of being distracting but positively never cross it. They're like the best kind of wallpaper or embroidery, unnoticeable until somebody points it out to you, and then all the more appreciable for how delicate it is. At the end of the day, the entire album is like that; a shocking amount of delicate threads woven together into a deceptively solid whole, proof that quiet doesn't equal weak, and that soft doesn't haven't to be fragile.