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Sealions: Strange Veins

Self-released

Strange Veins is the first step in a soft-focus, synth-pop odyssey for Atlanta four-piece Sealions. The dynamic between singer/guitarist/keyboardist Joey Patino's stiff '80s production (recalling everything from middle period New Order to Pet Shop Boys radio-friendly fare) and vocalist/guitarist Jason Travis' chilly vocal yearning creates tension that is both wistful and seductive. On the surface, billowing synthetic vistas feel like a full-on nostalgia trip. But the man-made warp in "Bellwether" sparks a modern glow that shines in "Golden" and "Indian Summer." Exact beats and dark intonations collide in an up-tempo plod that can be a bit jarring to ears conditioned by rock 'n' roll's brashness. But Strange Veins never oversteps its bounds, making it all the more focused. "Islands" and "Apparition" reveal fluidity in a band discovering its true personality. Sealions aren't quite there yet, but they're on the right track, crafting sublime, electronic dance floor fodder that carries the cinch of a full band. (3 out of 5 stars).