Those who grab Identical Mistakes, the free full-length album on Luz and Agnew’s Bandcamp page, are treated to a cover image depicting a photo-negative image of the duo, one of whom is extending his middle finger. Yet he’s not necessarily flipping the listener the bird so much as pointing at something in a sort of an awkward manner. And, upon closer inspection, his index finger appears to be extended as well, rendering that initially snotty gesture a matter of photographic misunderstanding. And suddenly the duo seems less overtly confrontational, and actually somewhat approachable.
This is precisely how the first listen to the first album by Michael Luz and Tyler Agnew (full disclosure: Agnew is an occasional Treble contributor) plays out. The first track, “We Are a Cultural Vision (Hindsight Is Better Left Behind)”, is 40 seconds of disorienting vocal collage, creating a sort of cocktail party effect with two voices, setting the listener up for a bizarre, woozy listening experience. The curious thing about that, however, is that the brief introductory track is essentially a ruse to throw the listener off the scent, as what comes next, “Any Less Alone,” is blissful, dreamy indie pop in the vein of Atlas Sound, simple, lovely and above all, accessible.
With the strange looping exercise out of the way, Identical Mistakes actually evolves into an accessible and delightful indie pop record. “Lame Ducks In Love” most closely resembles Elliott Smith in full-band mode, while “Blue Lies” is more psychedelic, layering on eerie synths and some showier guitar leads. “Unicorn Man” gets a little bit weirder, with a chintzy drum machine underscoring the band’s bouncy melody, while “Running Too Fast” makes an infectious hook out of the spit-take worthy line, “Do me a favor and shut the fuck up,” even if the lyrics never quite surpass juvenile.
Identical Mistakes is a low-key and fun offering, reminiscent of a time when bedroom-recorded indie pop had nothing to do with chillwave. I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in that.
Pinback – Blue Screen Life
Folk Implosion – Dare To Be Surprised
Atlas Sound – Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.