Featuring the talents of multi-instrumentalist Mike Edge and vocalist Amber Quintero, Los Angeles duo Boardwalk's self-titled 2013 debut is a blissed-out and relaxed collection of songs that showcase the group's lo-fi, home-recording style beautifully. Mixing traditional instruments such as keyboards, guitars, and drum machines with instruments that Edge crafts himself, Boardwalk make a dreamy, half-awake, and often quite charming style of dream pop. While clearly inspired by the cherubic angst of bands like Mazzy Star and Galaxie 500, Boardwalk are at turns classicist and avant-garde, touching upon a variety of influences from Phil Spector-style '60s girl group pop, to ethereal Cocteau Twins-esque languor, to a lightly flowing take on My Bloody Valentine-style shoegaze. It also doesn't hurt that Quintero, while not an operatic singer, nonetheless has a resonant vocal style that leans as much toward the bright new age croon of Enya as it does the breathy style of Hope Sandoval. Surprisingly, none of this sounds overly studied or worked out. While Boardwalk's influences are obvious, they never come off as derivative, and couldn't be accused of trying to imitate any one band or production style. On the contrary, there is a timeless quality to their music. Also, while Boardwalk rely heavily on creating a chilled-out mood and nuanced atmosphere, they also write inarguably catchy tunes. Cuts like "I'm Not Myself," "What's Love," and "As a Man," are melodic earworms, buoyed as much by great songwriting as the band's ingenious production. ~ Matt Collar
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