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Tuesday July 22, 2014

Album Review

<em>Upright Behavior</em>, the second album from the bewitching Brooklyn quintet Landlady, has the same cracked-worldview approach as the band's debut, 2011's <em>Keeping To Yourself</em>. But this time, frontman Adam Schatz &#8212; who's also the multi-instrumentalist known as Brown Sugar in the equally skewed project Man Man&#8212;significantly tones down his band's goofy vocal mannerisms and choppy garage rock vibes. Instead, <em>Upright Behavior</em> is more like Dirty Projectors or TV on the Radio, digging up the shadowy side of whimsy. The album's prickly percussion, clipped guitars and strings sound refracted through a funhouse mirror — all halting rhythms, stuttering syncopation and unexpected contortions — while underneath, Farfisa organ and Casio keyboards simmer impatiently. This subtle darkness dovetails neatly with <em>Upright Behavior</em>'s lyrical obsessions: fear of death, fighting off loneliness and navigating life's uphill battles. Schatz's lyrics are concise but effective, offering surrealistic couplets ("I am as loving as I can/ I pledge allegiance to my frying pan") and absurdist poetry. Throw in Schatz's eccentric delivery &#8212; his vocal melodies frequently follow the twisted path set by the album's rhythms &#8212; and <em>Upright Behavior</em> ends up being a tidy, engrossing sliver of modern weirdness.

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