Lo-fi is sort of de rigueur in DIY indie rock, but when that affectation is used to cover up poor songwriting, it can be wearisome. Fortunately, Transistor Radio Sound's Nick Houde isn't lacking in that department. Throughout Squares, Transistor's latest release, Houde and company take an array of sounds and press them together to create beautifully impressionistic indie pop. But Houde's genius lies in his ability to craft songs that seem as though they were written just before the "record" button was pressed, imbuing the material with an invigorating freshness. This approach is best displayed in the frayed but sweet harmonies of songs such as "Don't Try to Argue," which amble alongside Loaded-era Velvet Underground-esque rhythms in a manner that's charming in its calculated imperfection. Overall, the group's minimalistic instrumentation, layered in unexpected and off-kilter ways, produces unique and pleasing melodies, giving credence to Houde's claim that Transistor Radio Sound is really just a punk band playing pop music.
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