As the first track on Matthew Dear's new album, "Her Fantasy" points—as the Headcage EP did earlier this year—towards a happier place than 2010's Black City. But it's still unmistakeably Matthew Dear, creating a powerful duality between comfortable songwriting and opaque dissonance. As the track kicks off, a carnival of rattles, whistles and shouts is soon joined by Dear's unmistakable voice. It then proceeds to break out into an unfettered celebration—of whatever the lyrics might mean to you. There's a subtle trick here too: it's propelled by a house beat and disco arps, but not quite engineered as a club track. If you turn it up and expect it to thump, it may come off as sluggish and overpowering. (The kick is mixed very low.) So is it pop? Is it dance? It's neither: it's just another of Dear's inspired musical contradictions.
"Crimewaves" has more of a spring, skipping off puffs of accordion and synth burbles. The haymaker here is the arrangement, rolling through contrasting sections with flair and—of course—a healthy curiosity. The shakers just before the end are sublime; flecks of froth that skim across the lumbering skank underneath. It won't be on Beams, but if we gather nothing else from what's here, it's that the album's likely to be wealthy in ideas. No surprise there, then.
Tornado Wallace completes a remarkably deft package with a smooth, functional disco mix that takes honey glazed guitar plucks and sunset pads, and splashes them with '70s yacht rock. Meanwhile, the bassline buzzes and stutters, cutting through the glow with a swaggering edge.