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Reptaliens are ready to be direct. After exploring surreal realms of high concept synth-pop across two acclaimed albums, the Portland, Oregon, duo gained newfound clarity in a stark, grounded approach. That may seem unexpected for such a colorful act—known for heady lyrics about conspiracy theories and transhumanism—but Cole and Bambi Browning have streamlined to the lean, propulsive essentials on their self-produced new LP, Multiverse.
Shelving the dreamy synths altogether and working without their other bandmates due to lockdown, Reptaliens reset, picking up their guitars and emphasizing the catchy attack that’s been there all along. Drawing inspiration from the spontaneous energy of the ’90s alternative canon, the pair hit a surge in momentum after a casual-turned-revelatory listen to Jane’s Addiction’s 1990 classic “Been Caught Stealing.” Without even aiming to make a Reptaliens song, they wound up penning the set’s lead single “Like a Dog,” a sun-soaked groove-bomb that’s blissfully unencumbered by sonic baggage.
Across their first two albums Reptaliens established themselves as dedicated dreamers and deep thinkers, filling their wooly, homespun synth-pop with meditations on outré science fiction and philosophy. By contrast, Multiverse brings those lyrical concerns closer to home while the music takes a jangle-prone timeless form of subtly psychedelic guitar-pop, finding occasional dark cul-de-sacs but ultimately tending toward the light and breeze.
With mixing duties divided between Mikaelin “Blue” Bluespruce (Solange, Blood Orange) and Ross Brown from Kansas City bands Shy Boys and Fullbloods, Multiverse is a crisp pop record packed with surprising flourishes, from the crunchy chorus of “I Can’t Hide” to the smoky, serpentine guitar solo on “Jump.” Striking out into refreshing new directions at every turn, Multiverse indeed feels like a symbolic crossroads. And one that only yields more possibilities with each visit.
1. I Feel Fine
2. Like A Dog
3. In Your Backyard
4. Take It
5. Don’t Wait For Me
6. Do You Know You Are Sleeping?
7. Go Away
8. Someone I Know
9. I Can’t Hide