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Midnight Movies 

Lion the Girl (New Line)

Any song from Midnight Movies' 2004 self-titled debut could have been on the soundtrack for a psychological thriller from the 1970s; the then-trio thrived on eerie simplicity. But with the recent addition of multi-instrumentalists Sandra Vu and Ryan Wood — and singer Gena Olivier coming out from behind her drumset to pump more oomph into her ethereal vocals — the now-quartet is able to stack meat on the bare-bones structure its first album introduced. The result on Lion is that Olivier sounds happier, less creepy — and more liberated. "I got to the point where I almost got to resenting the drums," says Olivier, whose first love was singing and only picked up drumsticks because no one else in the original band would. Lion keeps the band's signature psychedelic edge intact with songs such as "Patient Eye," where trippy guitar distortions take the lead. The languid pace of "Ribbons" and "Bell Tower," however, crosscuts the carefree spirit that gives away the Los Angeles band's California roots. Others — including the throbbing "Lion Song" — are more reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane. (Olivier even holds a slight resemblance to Grace Slick.) While limitations kept the first album somber, the new musical possibilities brought by another drummer, steady keyboard and bass have allowed Midnight Movies to step out of the shadows for an uplifting dose of sunlight.

— Andrea Noble

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