7 / 10
One of the great joys of intoxication is the grand plans you conceive in the inhuman hours of the morning somewhere just past the pint of no return. You and your best friend swear to sell everything you own, emigrate to Cuba to open a bar, swim the Channel, trek to the North Pole pulled only by cats… And then you wake up in the morning, and no more is said of it. Kudos, then to Fabrizio Moretti, for actually following through on a pipe dream after the smoke cleared. When a chance meeting with Rodrigo Amarante, singer of laidback Rio De Janeiro indie rockers Los Hermanos, at a Portugese festival sparked off all kinds of musical masterplans in an all-night ramble marathon, it looked like that was as far as it would go. A year later, though, Amarante was in the US working with Devendra Banhart, and encouraged by mutual friend (and now Fab’s girlfriend) Binki Shapiro, they rented a house in Echo Park and hammered their hazy ideas into reality.‘The Next Time Around’ has a gentle tinge of tropicalia, the laziest of lilts, a kind of cocktail-sipping SoHo Pacific vibe. Amarante’s soothing, sonorous tones, backed by Fab and Binki’s sweet coos, are perfectly hammock-worthy. It’s no Strokes’ day off either; the percussion is self-effacing and minimal.
The loungey groove of ‘Keep Me In Mind’ hints at the lo-fi pop perfection of the Pixies’ ‘Here Comes Your Man’, while ‘Don’t Watch Me Dancing’’s feather-light fingerpicking rolls over your ears like soft waves on a weary shore, slowly trancing out into psychy echo. Unlike Fab’s bandmate Albert Hammond Jr, you sense his side-project doesn’t spring from any long-held ambition or burning need to express himself; while the initial seeds of the songs were his, he’s very much in the back seat. Without him, of course, there’s no way this release would get so much attention, but its casual easiness is most of its charm. This is an album, after all, that’s named after the cocktail bar down the road.
And it’s a sound that doesn’t need to try too hard; ‘Unattainable’, sung by Shapiro, recalls Mama Cass’ ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ as imagined by Cat Power, while on ‘Brand New Start’, Amarante finds an Adam Green-ish slacker crooner air.Here’s to idle dreaming then; Little Joy might not quite have built a castle in the sky, but they’ve constructed a cosy little corner in our hearts.
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