Danish group re-discovers the simple joy of being themselves
The Figurines have been honing their pop-indie-psych-rock aesthetic since the mid '90s, so it's a bit of a surprise that this is only their fourth full-length. Their last album, 2007's When the Deer Wore Blue, had an almost prog-like heft — a sharp contrast to 2006's critically acclaimed pop juggernaut, Skeleton — and it cost the band some fans (not to mention 2.5 points on the Pitchfork Richter scale).
So the great news is that the Danish outfit’s self-titled release is so good. It sounds like the band has rediscovered the energy and the simple joy of making music — at times recalling the tonal abandon of their catchy, Pavement-esque debut, 2003's ,a href="http://www.emusic.com/album/Figurines-Shake-A-Mountain-MP3-Download/11740266.html">Shake a Mountain. "The Great Unknown" kicks it garage-rock style, outfitted with shimmery west-coast reverb, while "Lucky to Love" is a sunny, hook-filled paean to the stuff teenage dreams are made of.
Much hay has been made of the Figurines sounding like other, "better" American bands, which is generally lazy critic shorthand for, "I am unable to describe what this band actually sounds like." And yes, lead singer Christian Hjelm does sounds a bit like Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock, and there are elements of the Shins on "The Great Unknown," and no doubt the lovely, haunting "We Got Away" would've sounded very different pre-Elephant Six Collective. But good bands wear their influences on their sleeves — and great bands weave those influences into a tapestry that’s wholly their own. Guess which one Figurines are?