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The new millennium continues to yield 4-track treasures. Stoltz's
debut is a tasty blend of styles: Nick Drake/early Pink Floyd-type
psychedelia, punched up by Wire-ish guitar aggression and an occasional
REM-via-New Zealand pop lick. Into this mix, drop vocals that combine
the throaty eloquence of Ian McCulloch and the nasal superiority of
early David Bowie with the bristling defiance of Tom Waits.
Whether pounding out post-punk pop on "X-Ray Eyes" or waxing
folkish on "Permafrost", Stoltz displays an unerring ability to write
tunes that slip easily beneath your guard -- songs that sound old and
comfortable, as if they've been lurking in the back of your record
collection for years, waiting for you to rediscover them. Then again,
when I hear the drunken ramble of "The Fog has Lifted," the bouncy xylophone
melody of "Cardinal Body" or the trippy la-las of "Vapor Trail," I'm rather
glad I didn't have The Past Was Faster back when I was in college --
it's far too much of a "blow off everything and drink beer all day" album.
Come to think of it, it's just as dangerous now... I'm not suggesting that
you call in sick or play hooky, but you really ought to clear out enough of
your schedule to track down a copy of The Past Was Faster and let it take you where it will.
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