One significant difference between Figurines' third album, When The Deer Wore Blue, and its wonderful 2006 record Skeleton is that the new one feels a bit studied. Skeleton's strength came from Figurines' fluid synthesis of indie-rock touchstones like Modest Mouse, Flaming Lips, R.E.M., Built To Spill, and Neil Young. When The Deer Wore Blue, by contrast, opens with two consecutive songs—"Childhood Verse" and "The Air We Breathe"—that stop and start self-consciously, aiming for Beach Boys-like symphonic complexity. But even those two aren't bad, really—just choppy. And the album picks up considerably with track three, "Hey Girl," a snappy, twangy pop song that chugs along like a well-tuned motor, setting up a good stretch where Figurines lock into vamps and stay with them. When The Deer peaks with a three-song suite—"Drunkard's Dream," "Half Awake, Half Aware," and "Angel Of The Bayou"—that maintains a low-burn intensity, stacking up drumrolls and deep twang while moving with a natural force.
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