Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

After three albums of likeably ragged indie-rock in the mid-’00s, Figurines took a short break, and now the Danish trio has returned with a self-titled fourth album and a more polished act—almost a re-branding. The band still recalls Neil Young and R.E.M. (or at least the pieces of Neil Young and R.E.M. borrowed by Built To Spill and Modest Mouse), but they’ve lost the elements of abrasion and experimentation that crept into 2006’s brilliant Skeleton and 2007’s When The Deer Wore Blue. New songs like “Lucky To Love” and “New Colors” are brighter and more toe-tapping, sort of a twangy take on new wave. The cleaned-up Figurines sound is appealing, for the most part, especially when applied to songs with some of the band’s old echo and pound, like “Hanging From Above” and “Poughkeepsie.” But while the individual tracks are uniformly impeccable in their craftsmanship and pop sense, the album as a whole never penetrates its own lacquer. On the rousing “The Great Unknown,” Figurines ask for someone to “light me, lead me, show me a way to go,” and while they do generate a lot of that light on Figurines, they fail to forge a path.


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