Baltimore's Page France crafts music for hypothetical, as-yet-unwritten John Hughes films. This is indie pop anxious with hope and possibility, led by singer/guitarist Michael Nau, who sometimes aches with a little vocal quake, like Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst. Jangling, lilting guitars swoon and swoop like circling seagulls over perky arrangements, while keyboardist Whitney McGraw offers sweet harmonies over sugary hooks. The music recalls mid-'90s twee pop with a touch of Sufjan Stevens' ramshackle orchestral flair, and it's anchored by a disarming honesty and straightforwardness that makes it quite winning. Nau has downplayed his frequent use of religious imagery connecting him with the Christian pop of Stevens and the Danielson Famile though it reappears on the track "Hat and Rabbit" off Page France's new album, . . . And the Family Telephone. Openers Headlights hail from a similar musical neighborhood. Their sound is more refined, exchanging the off-the-cuff Neutral Milk Hotel-isms for carefully modulated chamber pop. Vacillating between high-energy power pop melodies gilded with electronics and crisp, baroque sophistication, Headlights recalls Velocity Girl if she were dating Belle & Sebastian.
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