Music News

Subtropical Spin

Even as it shirks the drug-binging, groupie-banging, therapy-seeking responsibilities of a full-fledged band, Popvert has managed to construct a remarkably slick, sophisticated EP. The band's press sheet is insistent: "Popvert is not a band... It's a project!" Apparently, core members -- producer/bassist Jose Tillian and guitarist/keyboardist Marthin Chan (of Volumen Cero) -- are more dedicated to their day jobs than to Popvert's shadowy, new-wave electropop.

Band, project, whatever. Either way, the five songs on this debut shimmer like moonlight on swaying ocean waves. Making that fabled Miami-Dade/Palm Beach connection, Miami residents Tillian and Chan enlist Boca's Jolie Lindholm, former vocalist for defunct indie rockers the Rocking Horse Winner. Aided by a few other vocalists and a trick bag of production flourishes, they float Lindholm's fragile voice over a chilly veneer of vivid guitars, keyboard washes, and diamond-hard rhythms. Whether the Phil Collins citation on "The Big Show" is intentional or not, the song brims with synthesized wist, while the keys and processed drums on "Electricity" are all new New Order. The album's closer, "Nothing/Once 11," sums up the Popvert sound, a glossy, sensual drift among filtered drums, layered vocals, and sharp guitar. Popvert the "project" may vanish like smoke, but the music makes enough of an imprint to remember it by.

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Jonathan Zwickel