CAFE RACER – ” Shadow Talk “

Posted: December 30, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Some psychedelic albums reach a hypnotic end cheaply. But “Shadow Talk”, the second album from Chicago experimental five-piece Cafe Racer, reaches heady emotional and sonic heights, not by leaning on overused effects or sprinkling meaningless, abstract imagery, but by expecting more out of a song and its lyrics. Shadow Talk is all about finesse and dynamics—melodies cascade with subtlety and spark with a euphoric glow. They’re also masters of grooves both meditative and invigorating, and they experiment with foreground and background sounds in mind-numbing ways. It’s an extremely calming album until it isn’t—the guitar and synth fury on “Faces” is life-affirming, the guitar solo in “Exile” is painfully emotive and its subsequent outro track creates blistering, ambient havoc. It’s a moody, empathetic album, bolstered by repetition and the palpable scenes they create, whether that’s an imagined, heavenly gorge or the melancholy urban landscapes you traverse every day. 

Cafe Racer continues Chicago’s long tradition of indie-rock / post-punk / whathaveyou, but with splashes of psych. Fluid but not overly studied. The debut album from Chicago five-piece Cafe Racer arrived in 2018 with Famous Dust, which artfully wobbles as much as it confidently struts. Their ability to make keyboard and guitar sounds bend, zigzag and squeal was already well-developed, so by the time they released their 2020 follow-up Shadow Talk, they were firing on all cylinders. With art rock, psych and krautrock as their backbone, they lock into immersive grooves, but even when a groove is dismantled or they’re building up to another one, Cafe Racer have a way of dazzling with subtle, snaking riffs and luscious vocals. 

Written and Performed by Cafe Racer: Michael Santana, Adam Schubert, Rob McWilliams, Andrew Harper, and Elise Poirier. Saxophone on ‘Breathing’ performed by Spencer Ouellette. 

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