Couture, Couture, Couture (Sub Pop)

Scientists estimate that by the year 2006, 23 different bands will have released albums bearing a sticker that reads: Featuring members of Beachwood Sparks. In the past two years, we've seen several bands split off from the seminal spectral-country faves: The Tyde, with their synth-heavy take on surf culture; the Mystic Chords of Memory, who explore gentle bedroom pop; and All Night Radio, whose Stereo Spirit Frequency stands as a bright light of 2004.

Which brings us to Frausdots, the project of Beachwood Sparks bassist Brent Rademaker. Couture, Couture, Couture takes a darker turn toward atmospheric mood music made with post-punk guitars and airy, ambient keyboards. Unlike Rademaker's old band, this outfit sounds more like Echo & the Bunnymen than the Flying Burrito Brothers. Adding to the '80s eyeliner influences, Rademaker and bandmate/girlfriend Michelle Loiselle reportedly fell in love at a Cure concert, and Cure keyboardist Roger O'Donnell contributes to a few tracks. Despite these connections, there is nothing overly gloomy about this record, and the band kicks some new life into the Interpol formula of heavy guitars and dour delivery. Rademaker proves an able frontman, and Loiselle's background vocals give wings to these songs about big-city life. While the album drags on occasion, it transitions nicely to sunnier, pop-centric numbers. Frausdots may not be your favorite Beachwood Sparks bastard child, but this album is a testament to the seemingly boundless creativity of that band's original members.

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