Review ·

If you're wondering where all the sophisticates have gone, look to Rob Taylor and Alex Paulick, the two expat Englishmen (now based in Cologne, Germany) at the micro-house heart of Coloma. Three albums deep and lamentably all but ignored on these shores, Taylor and Paulick machinate and swoon at the crossroads of minimal dance, blue-eyed soul and down-tempo synth-pop, recalling Avalon-era Roxy Music, the ambient folk of the Blue Nile and the clever pop perfection of Prefab Sprout and Aztec Camera.

 

The duo's previous full-length, 2003's Finery (released on German dance label Ware), was nominated for the Discovery Award and won the Most Promising Act jury prize at the Qwartz Electronic Music Awards in Paris. Dovetail finds the two with a new label (Austrian-based Klein Records) and an organic shift in direction. The cut-and-paste reductionism of Finery (and 2001's Silverware) rippling beneath the surface, Taylor and Paulick loosened their dependency on the digital and recorded with a series of studio musicians, most notably a three-piece horn section, providing a human depth that bulwarks both Paulick's manipulations and Taylor's vibratic croon. The resulting collection is nothing less than stellar.

 

The album opens with "The Price of a Perfect Smile" as Taylor imparts the equal-opportunity mantra "money can't buy that kind of style" over echoing synths, ringing bells and ebb-tide horns. "To Love You" recalls a minimalist Air pumped full of Percy Sledge and Otis Redding, and "So Much in Common" will please listeners anxiously awaiting a Pulp reunion. But it's the swelling horns, stabbing distortion and final vertiginous act of "Happiness is Deafening" that exemplifies the new, organically inclined Coloma: restrained, literate, confident and complex. In a word, sophisticated.

 

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Coloma Official Site

Klein Records Site

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