December 15, 2010
[Modular / Sincerely Yours]
Keeping it real has been a successful marketing ploy at least since the first 1950s Volkswagen ads, which cleverly contrasted the humble "bug" with Detroit's falsely gleaming behemoths. But when Eric Berglund, better known as one-half of Swedish electro-pop duo the Tough Alliance, samples the words "I keep it real" on this solo debut, it sure sounds like he actually means them. Whether or not that's true, great songs like the intricately pulse-raising title track or twee S&M jam "Love and Do What You Will" don't lie. Indeed, the only thing modest about White Magic is its half-hour length, as electronic beats, indie-kid earnestness, hip-hop bravado, and all sorts of new-agey nature noises add up to one of the year's lushest productions. Berglund's cryptically rambling interviews send the same message as labelmates jj's cryptically terse ones: Music first.
Toro Y Moi
Causers of This
Of all the dudes making hazy synth-pop in their bedrooms this year, Chaz Bundick might be the most versatile. The South Carolina electronic pop artist who records as Toro Y Moi has already flashed his dance-friendly side on a 12" under the alter ego Les Sins; his Body Angles cassette goes more for spiky distortion; and his next album leaves samples behind for "a more traditional approach." Debut full-length Causers of This is Bundick's spaced-out R&B record, and it's a beaut. Unlike so many similar projects, Causers can be enjoyed as much for its lusty, lonely songcraft as its dense atmosphere. "How can I tell if I love you anymore?" Bundick sings at one point, answering his own question: "Never mind/ I know I do." With soulful samples, funky bass, and palpable yet slightly oblique emotion, this is the breakup album for people who love makeout albums.