(Couple Skate Records)
(out of 5)
Glimpses of Stephanie came a few years back, with songs on splits with Witch Gardens and Wet Paint DMM in the summer and fall of 2010. The release of their first album, One Glove, has been eagerly awaited, and it finally came out on November 13. Stephanie are Ian Judd, Andrew McKibben, Matt Lawson, Wil Adams, and Robert Wolfe (Judd tells me Wolfe "moved to LA and isn't a material member of the band anymore, but [is] forever with us in spirit"). Recorded and engineered by Erik Blood, One Glove is an album with solid synth-pop new wave influences, though the production assures that it's not just a tribute to an old style but something new entirely. "We like to call our genre of music swirl," Judd says—a tag I agree with. What a nice concept, to swirl! This album DOES make me want to swirl. Swirl around with a smile, dancing with my hands out and my head down, shaking my hair. Let's all do the swirl! Overdriven tones and twinkling atmospheres prevail on the six tracks, creating a moody/bouncy background for vocals that range from beautiful and subdued to wavering and operatic. There are combined elements that aren't supposed to fit together as well as they do—grim beats give way to catchy OMD-styled breaks. The excellent "Cell 44" (that may or may not be a Zombies reference?) was released over the summer and features galloping dance percussion and dramatic textures, with Adams crooning along to what eventually becomes an organized disaster of the best kind. My favorite, though, as of this typing, would have to be "Mercy"—a darkly upbeat jam with irresistible keyboard hooks and, yes, a heaping helping of swirl.