Carter Tanton has served in a number of bands, including the defunct Tulsa and the buzzing Lower Dens, but his second solo album, Freeclouds, is packed with so many ideas, it’s obvious he still has plenty of creative energy to burn. Veering from melancholic pop (“Murderous Joy”) to noisy basement jams (“Horrorscope”) to low-key folk (“In Knots”) to beat-heavy indie-rock (“Gauze Of Song”), the restless Freeclouds doesn’t always hang together as a consistent listen. But that hardly matters when Tanton manages to be as engaging and tuneful as he is on these generously melodic songs. Tanton’s strengths are his ear for hooks and his brassy vocals, which lift the choruses on Freeclouds to billowy levels of ’70s radio-pop splendor. The jangly “Murderous Joy” could almost pass for a Fleetwood Mac song (as heard through the lens of Out Of Time-era R.E.M.), and “Saturday” beams like the most bountiful ballads off Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. But Tanton doesn’t dwell solely in a soft-rock vein: On “Land Lines,” he tries out a convincing early-’80s New Romantic synth-pop guise, and the stunning “Pitch Bent Flute” is a wondrous power-pop ballad that nods to Alex Chilton. Tanton tries on a lot of hats on Freeclouds, and they all fit snugly.
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