Posing Nude

Posing Nude
(Heavy Hydrogen Records)

Sep 15, 2010 at 4:00 am

Posing Nude is something of a local enigma. The two-piece rarely plays live, and it keeps a fairly low-profile Web presence. But according to a few brief missives on its MySpace page (www.myspace.com/posenude), the minimalist pop band has made some inroads on the West coast: Los Angeles indie tastemaker KCRW (89.9 FM) has played a track, and legendary Minutemen/fIREHOSE member Mike Watt is apparently a fan as well.

The band's self-titled debut has plenty of bright moments. Sleepy, heavily reverbed tracks flow into acoustic punk screeds that then dissolve into a wash of playful, squelchy synths. ("Nar-Tusk," a keyboard-driven ode to the narwhal, is a fun, tossed-off track, but it's uncharacteristically cloying.) Opening track "Late Night" rides a sine wave of white noise and a naïve rattling bass before pizzicato guitar plucks and singer/guitarist Dano Mick's mumbled vocals drift in. Posing Nude's best songs follow that formula — simple but evocative guitars, hazy vocal performances and a laconic sense of late-night ambience.

Mick has no shortage of ideas, and he doesn't want for the panache to pull off such a varied but unified program. Drummer Patti September follows his whims with deference to his vocals and guitar lines. The beats aren't as memorable or forceful as one might want in a guitar/drum duo, but they're never off-track or obtrusive. As a vocalist, September's duet with Mick on "Someone New" has a pleasing off-key twee sheen amid perky guitar upstrokes and submerged New Order bass riffs.

The band's bare-bones moments ("A Letter to You" and the quite lovely "Ripe from the Fall" in particular) call to mind the first two Elliott Smith records, where pop smarts, acoustic balladry and melancholy expressions swirl into one seamless sound. Not every song here is a keeper, and in places the disc sounds more like a padded demo reel than a straight album. But Posing Nude suggests many directions; the band has no shortage of paths to choose from in its pursuit of moody, nuanced pop music.

— Christian Schaeffer

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