For Your Comfort And Safety

Car Stereo Wars

Greg Records, 2008

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Melbourne, Australia’s Car Stereo Wars has the right verve that makes them a brilliant electronic indie act: luxuriantly angelic vocals, for one thing. Add to that some catchy tunes without over-the-top cellophane production, and the band maintains an indie earthiness with measured wistfulness, which has become the requisite for music that leans heavily on synthesizers and programming.

The group’s music has the magnetism of an instant pop hit, may it be the gloom-pop infused “Dearheart” or the uptempo and more folky “Radio Edit.” They maintain an introspective composure in their songs that is undeniably ethereal, even though the music is not built upon towers of layers.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Although Car Stereo Wars might fall under the electronic/trip-hop caption, the lavishly used live drums and acoustic guitars repeatedly overpower the keyboards. For Your Comfort And Safety surprises with cuts like “Broken,” which purely and entirely consists of drums, bass, and acoustic guitars, and the title number itself – the album’s gorgeous swansong – which has solely acoustic guitars for instrumentation.

Car Stereo Wars, however, is not like an indie-folk act that might use the synthesizers for the occasional quirky drum loop. They accomplish a very sophisticated medley of real and programmed music. In fact, the band goes a step beyond, incorporating folksy cellos to add further complexity, and they are not hesitant to use them even when a song is as overpoweringly electronic as “Dearheart.” Safety has various painstakingly subtle layers of instruments that beautifully garnish the music, and while all the allying sounds could be attributed to programming alone, they absolutely are real – lap steel, pianos, trumpet, trombone, tuba, and all.

The diverse confluence of music on Safety gives Car Stereo Wars the credibility to create the expected straightforward pop-rock radio candy like “November,” where the band transforms from an electronic act to a pop band with electronic guitars. And with a little twist of the synth element added to the guitar-based “Low Rise,” these two contradicting avatars of the band come together and coexist in accord. The illusiveness of the many layers on Comfort makes it a far less dense record than it might seem. At the same time, this album is not completely lacking in posh dreamy numbers either: “Down” and “Smooth” stand out as the album’s lush, psychedelic side.

For all the hidden nuances and complexities on Comfort, this is an album that is as easy as it can get. It is almost impossible not to be instantly smitten by the tunes on this record.  This is one masterpiece that’s surprisingly not eccentric.

Rating: A-

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