It's amusing that a band that sets its sights so high with its name (Palomar is an observatory that houses one of the world's biggest telescopes) ends up writing songs concerning earthly matters. But throughout the 14 tracks on Palomar III, the coed Brooklyn quartet contemplates everything from the Old 97's and Amstel Light to cars and icicles, invoking these items as props in what seem like endless interpersonal dramas involving regret, sold souls, loneliness, and disappointment. Pitting such themes against the peppy sound we've come to expect from the group -- upbeat rhythms, thick bubblegum vocal harmonies, McCartney-worthy melodic bass lines, and jangly, fuzzed-out electric guitars -- makes for some complex indie rock. It's unclear whether Palomar is concerned more with making us wallow in heady gloom or nod our heads to the cutesy beats, but it's capable of both. -- Abigail Clouseau
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