Mars Loves Venus, the latest disc by the Brunettes, sounds as American as the Apples in Stereo. The disc's shiny/happy melodies will strike a familiar (and simple) chord with anyone who's spent time guzzling domestic indie pop, and the charmingly amateurish vocals by the dark-tressed duo of Heather Mansfield and Jonathan Bree suggest a perkier Kim Deal and a slightly less nasal Jonathan Richman. Don't let the lack of Lord of the Rings-like accents fool you, though: Mansfield and Bree are from New Zealand, where their creative obsession with the work of their stateside peers has been percolating since at least 1998, when their current CD's title track was originally cut. Over subsequent years, the band has grown more sonically sophisticated, occasionally touring with a seven-piece lineup complete with glockenspiel, cello, and brass instrumentation like the kind that turns up on Mars tracks such as "Leonard Says." Despite these changes, the band's reputation is still decidedly fey, but that's fine by the Shins, who specifically chose Mansfield, Bree and company to open on their current tour, including a stop at the Fillmore. Their home may be thousands of miles from the nearest shore, but musically, at least, they should feel very comfortable here.
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