Arms Around A Stranger
Help RecordsGrade: ****
Two people couldn't possibly make pop music that's this rich and varied all by themselves. And the truth is, Acute, the Los Angeles duo of lead singer Isaac Lekach and drummer Patrick Edwards, did have help. Power-pop producer du jour Dave Trumfio, who's worked with My Morning Jacket and Wilco, lent his studio expertise to Arms Around A Stranger, which also features the tasteful string arrangements of Jason Borger.
As it turns out, hiring the right people for the job is just one of Acute's strengths. Another is crafting gorgeous, diverse melodies that burrow into your memory and make a home. Exquisite in every possible way, each song a blooming pop flower hiding thorny hooks, Arms Around A Stranger introduces you to the many sides of Acute in crunchy, fuzz-toned rockers ("Follow You Home," "Take A Step Back" and the Cars-like "The City"), Burt Bacharach-meets-Gram Parsons laments ("Saint"), heartbreaking, baroque love songs ("Rush To It" and "When We're Alone") and vibrant piano pounders ("Trouble").
Each personality is fully realized and mature, and time spent with each provides moments that should be cherished, and not forgotten.
Alternately sunny and cloudy, cheery and ebullient, but also depressing and sad, Arms Around A Stranger avoids the preciousness that plagues many of its contemporaries. Acute nods to Grandaddy, the Beta Band, the Beach Boys and a host of other pop luminaries on Arms Around A Stranger, fleshing out its arrangements with pedal steel, piano, spiraling string arpeggios and lonely brass that marry melody and counter melody together in uniquely irresistible patterns.
Already, Acute is ahead of the curve.