Park Avenue Music: For Your Home Or Office

Sacramento-based husband and wife team Wes Steed and Jeannette Faith (aka Park Avenue Music) produce alluring laptop pop that does, in fact, sound equally fine at your home or office. In spite of its half-hour length, there's no modicum of musical detail in these six charming pieces which contrast the inviting warmth of Faith's girlish vocals with Steed's glitchy backings. Her vocals are often free floating, suggesting she's hypnotically channeling spirits (the dreamy, child-like murmurs in “Cutter”), and sometimes heavily distorted (“The Mellow One” and “The Modern Guide,” where her singing seems to emerge from some underground funnel) which can be alienating when pushed too far; in “Golden Hummingbird,” for example, the warping treatments make her voice sound drunkenly woozy, undercutting its emotional impact. Emphasizing elegant piano themes, gentle Rhodes sprinkles, and clicking beats, the songs unfurl in becalmed and stately manner, with the staccato plucks and backward phasing effects in “How's Your 401k?” and the idyllic minimalist bridge in “Golden Hummingbird” two highlights of many. Like much melodic electronic music, a strain of melancholy seeps through the songs' pristine grooves and soothing melodies (further reinforced by lyrics like “Home is where the heart breaks” in “The Modern Guide”). Reminiscent of Caney and Joory's aptly titled Magic Radios and just as mesmerizing, “Betrwayx,” all melancholy tones and meditative piano ripples, may be a difficult title to utter but as an album closer, it's almost unbearably lovely.

February 2005