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Hospitality: Trouble 

At times breezy and ramshackle, at others psychedelic and bombastic, Trouble feels impossibly larger than its scant 37-minute running time. It's a creaky, shaggy, thrilling record that refuses to sit still and behave.

Songs like "It's Not Serious" take deceptive simplicity to alarming depth, where the title refrain becomes either a slacker's mantra that love is just not worth getting that excited about, or a romantic's plea for the resolve to stop caring so much. "Tell all your girlfriends," Amber Papini sings, a crack in her voice that's all braggadocio (or vulnerability), "Tell 'em you'll be out all night."

The stripped-down pop of "It's Not Serious" is, in part, a striking track because it appears amidst all the other weird turns and tones taken on Trouble, which finds a way to shift from the dystopian balladry of "Sullivan," to the rubbery, spastic "Nightingale," to the new wave hypno-pulse on "Last Words," to the front-porch acoustic folk of "Sunship" without feeling cluttered or confused.

That epic feel is helped along by tracks like "Rockets and Jets," a dark, twisty take on prog rock that fits the entire genre's propensity for grandeur into four minutes that are both more glamorous and sexier than most prog. "Going Out" feeds 1970s soft rock through a lava lamp, spinning out passages of Jefferson Airplane psych-gloom between breezy bits of Bee Gees.

It's the foreboding underneath the pop frosting that enlivens Trouble, that makes it so strange and sad and pretty. And so listenable.

More by Sean Bottai

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