LATE OF THE PIER
Fantasy Black Channel (Parlophone)

"Suicide is in my blood / It always was" -- an ominous meditation on one's mortality, or just a forced call for cred in the world of danse-macabre decadence? For the lyrics to "Space and the Woods," the breakout track on this British four-piece's debut, it's probably both. Singer Samuel Dust channels the cool detachment of Gary Numan alongside some Frank Zappa-falsetto freak-outs, while the band melds the funky futurism of Fischerspooner and Hot Chip with the raucous grinds of the Arctic Monkeys. But for all the rascally merriment on standout songs like "The Bears Are Coming" and "Bathroom Gurgle," the contagious electro-pop hooks too readily give way to retro-synth breakdowns evoking a Nintendo gone haywire. Unfortunately, this is a playfulness verging on pointlessness. As the band buzz builds, the popular reference point has been the Klaxons. And while the two do indeed dig through the same so-called New Rave terrain, something seems awry on Fantasy Black Channel -- as if the Klaxons' gift for taut grooves has been replaced by LOTP's weakness for freewheeling filler and excess.

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