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(Very Friendly)

Amp released their first album Sirenes almost 10 years ago now on the small UK label Wurlitzer Jukebox (and the even smaller US label Petrol). At the time, the group was comprised of the duo of Karine Charff and multi-instrumentalist Richard Walker. The group became known for their dreamy soundscapes and the soft vocals of Charff. My personal experience with the band is that I've heard most of their early releases (including their 2CD bliss-out release for the Darla label), but the main release of theirs that I find myself going back to is the excellent Astralmoonbeamprojections.

Having said all of the above, this newest release from the group seems like their most expansive to date (and also their most band-like). The title of the album is certainly meant to be an ambiguous one, as the group tackles not only personal relationships, but also their relationship with the United States, and the love and hate that goes along with each. The fittingly-titled "Opening" kicks off the album with almost six minutes of swirling guitar feedback and primal sounding drums while Charff adds wordless vocals that get caught up and swept around in the dense haze. Taking a complete change of direction, "Get Here" follows with an energetic post-punk rhythm section and more dreamy swirls of guitars while vocals by Charff alternately sound bored and feisty.

The group really hit their stride with the epic "YouSay," as they build from a quiet acoustic guitar and vocal intro into a dense collision of programmed beats, washes of guitar feedback, and other multiple melodic layers. Unfortunately, the album has a couple hiccups as "Lopsided" grinds along with a post-industrial feel while "Think Don't Think" completely breaks the flow of the release with a long field-recording juxtaposed with soft spoken-word vocals. The group seems to lock back into a solid mid-tempo swerve on the closing two tracks of "Endgame" and "Iconisis," though as spaced-out vocals mingle with trippy guitars and just the right snap in the percussion. While the highs are bigger than just about anything they've done to date, the album is also much more inconsistent than some of their earlier work.

Rating: 6