While there's a certain disconnect between the Matthew Dear at the helm of 2003's classic Leave Luck To Heaven and the thoroughly crossed-over Matthew Dear of today, reconciling the two doesn't require too much in the way of mental acrobatics: you can hear Dear's pop impulse rattling around behind Leave Luck's still-straightforward techno, a drive he'd mostly severed from his club music roots by 2007's Asa Breed and fully grown into by the massive, murky Black City last year. Dear's latest, the four-track Headcage EP, finds the New Yorker continuing to explore what it might mean for him to be a pop star, even going so far as to bring in some outside help on the production end.
"Headcage" is the fruit of a collaborative session at Brooklyn's Rare Book Room studio between Dear and the Swedish production team of Van Rivers and the Subliminal Kid, whose similarly idiosyncratic take on pop helped birth Fever Ray. The co-producer angle honestly strikes me as strange, since Dear's vocals have rarely been the highlight of the records he's put out under his own name. Jammy in form and thick with loopy percussion, "Headcage" is a start, but it's a bit disappointing considering its pedigree. "In the Middle (I Met You There)," however, finds Dear at his best. With Jonny Pierce of The Drums on lead vocals, Dear can really dig into the beat, which with touches of hip-hop and waterfalling organs might be one of his best solo tracks. "Street Song" and "Around a Fountain" round out the EP, the former sounding half-lost to the night (in a good way) and the latter like a 4 AM rainstorm, with Dear's lonely falsetto in the caress of quiet, mysterious drums.
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Tracklist: Matthew Dear - Headcage EP 01. Headcage
02. In The Middle (I Met You There) feat. Jonny Pierce
03. Street Song
04. Around A Fountain