Carrie & Lowell
There are few musical genres more immediately beguiling than perfectly calibrated, lustrous, shimmering Californian pop.
Alabama-born, Los Angeles-based sisters Allison and Catherine Pierce emerged 15 years ago peddling quirky, waspish folk-pop with attitude. Its lukewarm commercial performance led them to jettison these musical eccentricities in favour of radio-friendly silky harmonies.
This approach reaches its apotheosis on Creation, their fifth studio album and a gorgeous thing indeed. The Pierces achieve the rare feat of making ultra-glossy, meticulous soft rock sound alluring and profound. Pain and passion vibrate through their luscious soundscapes, hidden in plain sight.
The title track and album opener, descrying a misguided soul "walking down Fifth Avenue looking for salvation in a girl", has the romantic hauteur of Lana Del Rey. By contrast, The Devil Is A Lonely Night aches with dead-hours yearning, muses on a love gone but not forgotten, and soars into its stellar chorus like 1980s MTV darlings Heart.
The harmonies may sound chaste but the Pierces major in slick, synchronised sultriness with a doe-eye on the boudoir. Amidst the sunshine sheen of I Can Feel, the siblings murmur "You can take me home if you want to, you can lay me down"; Believe In Me puckishly ponders making new friends in a strange town to score a little late-night sexual healing.
The songs are immaculate and the production is forensic and yet everything sounds entirely natural and even holistic. The Pierces may just have made the album of their career.