Chicago knob-nerds with propensity for old skool synth sounds...


6 / 10 Remember synth geeks Dweeb? They were, irretrievably, rubbish. But you know synth masseurs Grandaddy? They are rather fabulous. The difference between them? A propensity for making old skool keyboards sing along with indie rock guitars in sweet, sussed harmony. Having a clue, in other words.

Chicago's Pulsars clearly know all about Dweeb. "Silicon teens use drum machines and tambourines/Silicon teens are from England", they rejoice in 'Silicon Teens', cavorting on a knife-edge between endearing Teen-C homage and quite staggering irksomeness. They don't know quite so much about Grandaddy, though; and more's the pity.

Because the Pulsars - essentially vintage knob nerd Dave Trumfio, lender of a production hand to Palace and Smog, and his brother Harry on drums - have that clue. They're possessed of the makings of fabulousness: a knack for writing unimpeachable pop tunes (like 'Submission Song' and 'Suffocation' - splendid singles both), and their own studio arsenal of burbles, wheezes and purrs to make them all weird and groovy.

But rather than boldy going for all the creative possibilities that their sweet-shopful of old gear should hold, the Pulsars remain earthbound by pop conservatism. So while 'Wisconsin' sounds like the Mary Chain on a toy piano, saccharine sludge like 'My Pet Robot' or the cloddish 'Technology' fall on the homicidal side of cute. Tooled-up, sure, but not fully clued-in.

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