January 7th, 2013 1:07pm

It Came Tumbling Down

La Big Vic “All That Heaven Allows”

The feeling of La Big Vic’s second album Cold War is not far off from that of Destroyer’s masterpiece Kaputt, but whereas Dan Bejar’s voice can’t help but magnify the ironies and aesthetic tensions at the heart of the music, Emilie Friedlander’s vocals are way more ambiguous. She’s the first singer I’ve ever encountered who splits the difference between Nico/Mary Timony/Liz Phair cool-indie-girl phrasing and Mariah Carey-ish melisma. She doesn’t come close to Mariah’s range or technique, but she does approximate one of her most recognizable tricks – an airy, wordless, trebly squeal that signifies a sort of ecstasy – and pushes it to hazy abstraction. (Grimes does this too sometimes.) I’m not sure if there really is an “irony” in La Big Vic’s music – everyone involved is far too young to be inclined to want to in any way distance themselves from this sort of purely pleasurable sound like the ultra-Gen X Bejar – but there’s a slight unease through the record. The best I can describe it is that it’s like the feeling of going to a really nice place and feeling too poor or underdressed to feel comfortable, even if the point of the place is to be extremely comfortable.

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